Nihar Manwatkar is a designer and musician. He currently runs a design company called Banana Design Co after having 12 years of work experience of designing in various fields. He had a moment of epiphany when he realized that though his company was growing, his team wasn’t happy. He realized he wasn’t working so hard to live the life of a machine. That’s when he decided to move his business to Goa and work with people from all over India and create a gig economy.
One of his biggest concerns was, ‘Will I lose my productivity?’ because Goa is known for everything other than work. But that did not seem to happen with him. He says, “I woke up in the morning with a smile. My work got done by 2-3 every day because there are no distractions and no traffic jams. After 3, I had all the time to pursue what I wanted.”
Here are some changes that he saw after adapting to the gig economy:
Design outputs improved: Since his team was much happier, he saw a difference in their work patterns and discovered a wave of fresh ideas.
Met new people: Staying in Goa and different hostels allowed him to meet people from all over the world.
Augmented a team of freelancers: After adopting this lifestyle, Nihar realized that it was easy to manage freelancers as well not just the core team. So he built a team of over 20 freelancers that would join his company.
Increased productivity: He says, “How do I expect my team member who is productive at 9 pm to be equally productive as someone who works at 9 am?”
How does he do it?
No fixed timings: Letting people work on their time ensures that they work when they are the most productive. So it can be either morning or night, the important thing is to get the work done.
Only KPI is client satisfaction: Every business is built on the trust that their client places in them, and that should be your only priority as well.
Don’t micromanage: The whole point of creating a virtual team is to free yourself from managing every small detail. Trust your team and assign them responsibilities.
Conduct meetups quarterly: Use these gatherings to give the message of what your company represents. This is the time you focus on building your company culture.
Nihar believes that the gig economy is the future of work. GenZs are not like millennials; they are not the ones to stick by the rules. The world of work is divided into two; mundane tasks and non-mundane tasks that are driven by innovation, creativity, etc. And as AI is taking over the world, hiring people for mundane functions don’t make sense anymore, and if you’re hiring people for the non-mundane tasks, they often need flexibility and freedom.
The 9 to 5 concept is becoming obsolete. Companies are making people believe that if you aren’t working those hours, you aren’t that successful. Nihar says, “Overall, this experiment hasn’t cost us a single penny. In a span of one year, we have successfully delivered over 35 projects. Since we have augmented our team, we can get people from all over the world to give us insights that we wouldn’t have got otherwise.”
As per a study by Paypal, one in four freelancers belong to India, and 41% of Indian freelancers have seen growth in the past year. Another industry report says that Gig economy in India has the potential to grow up to $20-30 billion by 2025. These statistics show that whether you accept it or not the gig economy is here to stay. The decision to make is how will you go about it?
(This article is based on a talk, ‘Gigging it from Goa’ by Nihar Manwatkar, Founder, The Banana Design Co gave during TAC 19 organized by People Matters.)