A 2013 report from Ernst & Young found women working flexibly are more productive than other workers, wasting only 11.1 percent of time, compared to an average of 14.5 percent for the rest of the working population.
According to the report, Australia and New Zealand could together save at least $1.4 billion in wasted wages by employing more productive female workers in flexible roles.
To help connect all types of job seekers who want to find flexible work with employers offering such roles is Beam.
The business was founded by Victoria Stuart and Stephanie Reuss, born out of their own experiences.
As Stuart explained, the pair had spent years building their corporate careers only to find, when they had families, that it was becoming increasingly challenging to be the employees and managers they wanted to be, and the parents they wanted to be.
“We basically found ourselves with this binary decision of being all in or all out on our careers, and we ended up sort of falling out of the workforce,” she said.
“As we experienced this, we looked around and saw this was something being experienced by many, many more women and men, and that, in fact, it wasn’t just parents. Actually, when we explored it more more broadly, it was actually something being experienced by other segments as well.”
From those in the pre-retirement space, looking to keep working but reduce from full time hours, to carers looking after sick or elderly loved ones, professional athletes, and more, the pair realised there were a significant number of people who would be looking for a solution.
A survey of 1,000 Australian office workers released by recruitment firm Robert Half earlier this year found 84 percent of workers would accept a lower salary for more benefits, with flexibility in working hours at the top of the wanted list for almost half these workers. Forty percent also wanted the option to work from home.
“We saw that there was this emerging demand and changing preferences for this fractional work market, and we wanted to create a platform where we could showcase talent and enable employers to be able to tap into that talent as well,” Stuart explained.
Having begun work on the platform two years ago, the cofounders believe there has been increasing demand from employers looking to tap into this ‘fractional work’ talent base, too.
“People working in this type of work have been shown to be more productive, produce higher end-customer satisfaction, and to be more loyal, so they’re increasing the productivity and performance of companies,” Reuss said.
While one would think it’s corporates that make up the bulk of Beam’s customer base on the employer side of the market, Reuss said small businesses too are quickly cluing into the benefits of fractional workers.
“Small businesses are a super exciting opportunity; small business owners are finding that, where they need capability to grow their business but have lean cash reserves, they can actually bring on people for just one or two days a week and still get that capability,” she explained.
Among the most popular functions small businesses and scaleups are hiring for are finance, digital marketing, operations, and HR.
“It makes complete sense for small businesses to be able to scale up incrementally rather than go from 0 to 100 percent of a headcount every time,” Reuss said.
For employers, Beam works by signing up and having a chat with a Beam staffer, detailing the type of business they are, the outcomes they are looking to achieve, and the type of talent they’re looking for.
Talent, meanwhile, is vetted by Beam before being added to the platform’s talent pool. This is a multi-step process, with the first hurdle to clear being that talent must have a minimum of seven years’ professional experience.
If this threshold is passed, they will then have a phone or video consultation with a Beam staffer who will look to understand what they want from their next career move, and look to ensure that the job seeker is of a standard that would suit the employers on the platform. Should that be the case, they will then be added to the Beam talent pool, and are able to browse and apply for jobs.
The vetting of the talent, the cofounders believe, is what helps set Beam apart from competitors, from the general job boards to more specialised offerings such as FlexCareers: employers can rest easy knowing that they are interviewing solid talent.
According to the cofounders, thousands of job seekers have been vetted; the key now is building up the other side of the market place to ensure there are the employers there to meet the demand from talent.
As they progress on their own business journey with Beam, Stuart and Reuss said the move from corporate to startup has been an interesting one.
There’s obviously an incredible amount of wonderful experience and learnings you can get from the corporate world, but what you do learn about stepping into the startup world is that it’s all about hustle, and it’s all about diversity, meaning you need to be able to do everything in a business, not just be an expert in one part of the business,” Reuss said.
“Generalist skills are pretty important, particularly in the early years. Resilience is key, too: being able to ride the highs and lows.”
The pair are currently capital raising to help further the Beam mission.
Image: Victoria Stuart and Stephanie Reuss. Source: Supplied.