Tag Archives: flexible culture

Can Weekends Begin on Fridays?

 

Weekends start on Saturdays. What if they could start on Fridays? What?!? Are you out of your mind?

Hmm.

Carlos Slim set the dialog rolling for fewer workdays recently. He advocated 3 11-hour workdays a week. Larry Page has referred to a 4-day week. Debate has continued, with views ranging from impracticality to glee. The more I think about it, the more I believe it is worth trying.

What if we actually do it while the world debates about it?

Allow me to share some thoughts – benefits, problems, constraints, and possibility.

Benefits
Contiguous time off from work helps our minds to relax, and our fires to recharge. It means time for hobbies and interests. Learning for techaholics. Research for thinkers. Tinkering for doers. Open-source contribution or personal projects for workaholics. Ideas for would-be entrepreneurs. Community and social work for do-gooders. Parties for party animals! Travel for travel-lovers. Family and kids time. Romance for couples. Sports for sport lovers. Home travel for those from other cities. A mix of all of the above for most of us!

Better life. Broader outlook. Broader minds. Better work.

Problems

On days you work, your work of 11-12 hours blocks out the rest of life. Those days can be more tiring. Work can suffer. An organization with longer weekends may be mistaken to be lazy, under-ambitious, and neglectful of work.

Constraints

With many benefits, fewer work days seem attractive. But there are constraints we have to consider.

Commitment
Every organization commits something to its customers/clients. At Mindfire, we commit 160 hours of work a month, 40 hours a week. Anything less and we have to suffer – when the organization earns less, everyone earns less. Work is the economic activity which generates wealth for all. Income is carved from eternity with our time. When income suffers, everyone suffers. That cannot be allowed to happen.

Non-work activities at work
In flexible workplaces, most of us have some non-work activities at work, perhaps about 10% of the time. In other words, 40 hours of work need about 44 hours at work.

Possibilities!

Now let us consider the possibilities.

3 x 11
3 days of 11 hours each is 33 hours a week, so that is infeasible.

4 x 11
4 days of 11 hours each can mean 40 work hours, which is feasible. However, getting clients to agree to one day off every week, even when other days are used to make up – is tough. Anything which harms work, will harm those who work.

4 x 10 + 4
Practically doable, similar benefits: 4 10-hour days followed by 4 hours on Friday!

This would mean 9am-7pm or 11am-9pm or whatever, Monday through Thursday, and 9am-1pm or 11am-3pm or whatever on Friday. Work ends and the weekend begins with lunch on Friday! Yay!

Interesting? Interested?

This could be a giant step for work, a small leap towards Work 2.0.

What do you think?

 

Thank God It’s Friday – Mindfire Style!

 

At Mindfire, we recently had a proposal to have one day of the week as “Work From Home” (WFH) for everyone.

A day working at home would allow a day’s escape from the commute. It would enable flexibility in planning personal stuff, including spending time with family.

The ideal day was Friday. Practically, it would mean Fridays blending seamlessly into the weekend, and undiluted weekends. People with family few hours away could travel overnight on Thursday, work from home on Fridays, and have two full days at home. And it would make Fridays a little more fun and a little more free!

Awesome! Doable? Hmm.

We shared the idea with people at our Bangalore center, to gauge response and interest. It quickly became obvious that people loved it! Given Bangalore’s epic traffic and commute problems, it was not surprising that most people preferred to avoid the roads.

Of course, there are some problems. Some people may have connectivity issues and actually prefer to work in office. Some people may have hardware or device-dependent work which cannot be taken home. Some work may need bandwidth which is not available at home. And certain work (such as Hiring) simply has to be done at office.

But there are enabling factors. First is our 100% laptop environment, which allows both mobility and reduces power-cut issues due to battery backup. Second is availability of cheap and reliable Internet connections. Third is the Mindfire culture – of being outcome-oriented instead of needing to see people sitting at their desks.

There is the gnawing problem of unfairness for people who cannot enjoy Friday WFH because their work cannot be done from home. Will they enjoy the joy of others? Or will they hate a facility they are excluded from?

It is a balanced risk. People understand if they have work issues at home, they need to rush to office. People also understand that freedom and flexibility come with responsibility. And that good things come hard, but go easy!

To test the waters, we are rolling this out at our Bangalore center from August 22, Friday.

This is a trial, an experiment in Work 2.0. If there are problems with work, it will have to be discontinued. If it works, it will be rolled out at our Bhubaneswar and Delhi centers as well. Helping positive ideas succeed enables us to do more, to move forward, while failing takes us a step backward.

 

Will it work? I will update what we find out! Life is discovery.

 

The architecture of a techie paradise

mindfire solutions techie paradise

“Do you really like working at Mindfire Solutions? “ I asked and saw my friend give me an as-if-you-don’t-know-it-already look. He said, “Whoever would want to leave this techie paradise?”
You may begin to think that I was merely doing a survey. No, I was not! It was a candid coffee table conversation between the two of us. Little did I know that this conversation would reveal the reasons why Mindfire Solutions’ attrition rate is way too much lower than the industry average? Here’s the gist which explains why my friend has been hanging around the Mindfire premises for almost a decade.

You work because you choose to!
Mindfire offers salubrious working conditions that encourage techies and geeks to blossom to their true potential. A flat organization structure ensures that people are free to speak their mind and “work because they choose to”. The wet blanket of bureaucracy hardly gets a chance to snuff out the embers of innovation at the workplace. If you look at the people working here, you will realize that they are a bunch of spirited guys and gals doing good tech work and always asking for more work. In fact one of the employees wrote a Glassdoor review saying “a year in Mindfire is equivalent to three years of experience. Thanks to the vast exposure that techies get at Mindfire with regards to technology areas and client interaction they have a steeper learning curve and a greater opportunity to grow in expertise and reputation (salary also comes under this purview) as compared to their peers elsewhere. A recent recruit who worked for one of the Big 4 companies opined that “We (Mindfire) are just the Right size for recognition of skills/contributions as opposed to getting absorbed in a big company where positions/awards are pre-determined”.

Cooperation, Collaboration and Innovation is the culture here:
There is a culture of collaboration at Mindfire. Most employees feel Mindfire is like a family where there are always people to help out. This camaraderie among employees makes the organization a healthy place of work. There are no walls at Mindfire. We have open workplaces and it should not come as a surprise to find the CEO himself sitting next to you and coding. Even the company financials are made known to each and every employee at the end of every month to ensure transparency. Innovation is the lifeblood at Mindfire Solutions. The way we make extensive use of technology to ensure quality in the work that we do ascertains the fact. We have homegrown systems and tools in place that check for bugs in the code that we write for our customers, keep our client updated using 2MV (2 minute videos), address requests, needs and problems at work, help make better and universally accepted decisions, catalyze day-to-day work, increase the speed of learning and be aware about the happenings in the organization. Stupefied? Aren’t you?

An organization of Knowledge seekers:
That Mindfire wishes to foster a culture of learning and has a knowledge driven culture is evident in the manner it wants its employees to get themselves certified. It has sponsored over 300 certifications with 95% certified software engineers holding Industry recognized certifications from the Industry leaders like Oracle , Microsoft, FileMaker, Zend etc. So it should come as a surprise to know that each Mindfirean has an average of two certifications per head. Not only that, it has sponsored ACM membership for all its employees. There is a great emphasis on dissemination of knowledge. After all, the more you share your knowledge the more you get to learn. Mindfireans have conducted over 170 seminars with a cumulative total of 4000 attendees across teams and centres. They zealously participate in technical forums and have earned brownie points for themselves and the organization. In our endeavor to provide quality software services to our customers, over 2000 code reviews from across various tech areas have been done and there is a dedicated team of 50+ QA specialists testing approximately 250 projects every week. There are 100+ subject matter experts to solve the developers’ queries anywhere and anytime. When it comes to IT spending Mindfire leaves no stone unturned. More than 500 people work on licensed software tools and this fiscal around 25 paid tools have been added in the extensive tools library. Mindfire Solutions is also the proud organizer of the DDM (Debasish Das Memorial) IT Quiz, a national level annual quiz fest for management and engineering students. This event is organized in the memory of one of our most talented employees whom we lost to a fatal road accident in 2010.

Oh and there’s a cherry on the cake too. In order to encourage its employees’ spirit of learning, Mindfire in a maverick move, distributed about 700 iPads and android devices to all its employees last December. Did you just let out a small sigh?

Flexibility in work life= great personal life:
One may begin to wonder that with so much work and learning going on at Mindfire Solutions the personal lives of its employees would be hitting rock bottom. But the situation is quite the opposite. We have fixed time for clients and that gives us more time for ourselves, family and friends. There are no strict rules/policies etched on stone and flexibility is given a lot of importance. Unlike larger companies where number of hours clocked is strictly monitored, people at Mindfire enjoy flexibility in working hours (no time sheets/registers/swipe machines) as long as the work gets done. New mothers/mothers-to-be can avail unlimited maternity leave, those who are ill can convalesce without worrying about losing their job and there is also the work-from-home option for those who cannot afford to come to office owing to certain urgencies at home. Also one does not have to haggle for leaves. Have you ever heard of a company that has a holiday calendar consisting of 365 holidays (366 in case of a leap year)? Well Mindfireans would know this better coz everyday is a holiday at Mindfire Solutions. Nobody forces you to work here. To reiterate a point already mentioned earlier, you work because you choose to. And last but not the least, in this world where “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (TANSTAAFL)” this organization offers free lunch for all its employees across the three centres. Surprised? Don’t be!

Here’s a company which offers tremendous work options in 60+ technology areas, a great learning opportunity and a flexible and laissez faire culture. Not to forget the handsome spot bonuses in lieu of good work done. I am sure now you understand what my friend meant when he said, “Whoever would want to leave this techie paradise?”

Working Mom

A working mother’s perspective

My best friend who works for a prestigious firm in the USA told me that maternity leave offered by most companies there varies between 6 weeks to 8 weeks at the most. When I told her about the “unlimited maternity leave” facility at Mindfire Solutions, her eyes actually popped out. And no I m not joking.
The first time when I heard about such an arrangement at Mindfire Solutions which allows new moms to take care of their baby for as long as they want to, well, honestly, I really could not digest it. But then one has to live it to vouch for it. And that’s what happened with me.

The Arrangement:

While the flexibility of working from home is offered by many companies to help employees to give as much importance to personal needs without compromising on the professional front, “unlimited maternity leave” goes an extra step further. New moms and moms-to-be at Mindfire Solutions get the liberty to stay with their baby for as long as they want to and then intimate their date of joining at their own discretion. Such an arrangement ensures that the mother and child enjoy being together for the initial (unlimited) time period. Even after joining the office the mothers in many cases have the flexibility of working from home.

My Experience:

During my pregnancy I had consciously moved from a client facing, business development role to candidate side marketing role. This ensured that if in the near future I had to take a long leave (Trust me it happens in most cases and everyone is not the yahoo chief. LOL.) it would have minimal impact on the business side. As I was nearing my due date I suffered from extremely swollen feet that prevented me from travelling to office every day. It was then that I started working from home so that work did not get hampered and finish off with all the pending projects before I went on that really long leave. (Thank God for the flexibility that Mindfire provides!)

In a few months time I became a mother to a boisterous infant. And then owing to a serious medical condition I had to avail the unlimited maternity leave over and above the regular maternity leave. Now when I look back, I am extremely grateful to Mindfire Solutions and really can’t thank it enough for granting my request. Also as an extremely employee friendly organization, it has never hesitated to let me work from home as and when the need arises. The flexibility that it offers to me helps me keep an equal focus on issues both at home and work.
One can understand it better if one looks at this arrangement from the working mother’s point of view. The amount of freedom and flexibility that Mindfire Solutions provides to the new mothers goes a long way in easing out her extremely hectic daily schedule.
And I find that as I try to juggle between my two roles, my new one as a mother and my older one as an employee, the organization and its people-centric policies have lent me a helping hand to handle these new roles without much hurdles. Frankly for all these humane gestures, I would not really mind walking that extra mile for Mindfire Solutions.

(P.S. The accompanying picture doesn’t apply to me.)