Ms Phang Sow Yoong (SY) and and Ms Tham Yew Wai (UY) registered Flexxi Associates Sdn Bhd on 15 May 2001. They started organising Flexxi Networking Tea to reach out to like-minded people.
As the business was set up before the advent of social media, it was deemed ahead of its time. Although they left the company dormant for the last 15 years, their passion became more intense with the advent of social media.
To make work-life balance achievable.
Flexxi Associates Sdn Bhd was set up in 2001 to explore business models that promote worklife balance and job flexibility.
Flexxi co-founder Ms Tham Yew Wai couldn’t re-enter the job market when her husband passed away. She had lost all her secretarial skills after 20 years staying at home. We realise that it is important for a homemaker to maintain and upgrade her skills in case something happen to her marriage or spouse.
Working from home is a good option but has its challenges. A stay-at-home parent has to deal with child care, household chores and business simultaneously. The children can’t understand why Mummy or Daddy is working at home but can’t play with them. Family members think you are free to run errands and respond to emergency. Work gets disrupted.
Over the years, we have experimented with different work arrangements in order to create an eco-system to support job flexibility.
To promote flexibility and entrepreneurship, we encourage our associates to set up their own companies. As we outsource work to each other, it is up to an entrepreneur to decide how much work he or she can cope with.
We envisage our associates working in teams and shifts in a co-working space where child care is available. For this concept to succeed, our associates must be trained and we take jobs that could be planned ahead of time. This augurs well for both quality work and timeliness.
Flexxi shall concentrate on communication projects which are our forté. Thanks to the Internet, there is a lot of job flexibility in editorial work.
However, editorial skills can’t be developed overnight. We have re-engineered the process so that we can move our associates up the competency ladder. Newbies will start off with research and strategic planning. Later, we will train them in interviewing techniques, writing, content editing and copy editing.
Our associates will be working under the supervision of communication practitioners with more than 20-30 years of industry experience. Apprenticeship is an effective way to master editorial skills.The teams will work on three-hour shifts while their children are engaged in various activities. When they go home, they can forget about work and focus on their children.
SY Phang remembers having to look after the babies of her freelance writers and graphic artists while they rushed amendments for her projects.
Since then, she has been looking for solutions. Three years ago, when she first stepped into ‘The School by Jaya One’ in Petaling Jaya, she immediately knew that the education mall is an ideal place to launch our business model.
Flexxi is discussing with the relevant organisations to set up a community library and learning hub at the education mall. It will act as an “eco-system” to empower parents to work undisturbed while their children attend enrichment classes. Mums and Dads can support each other by taking turns to conduct children’s activities.
The education mall is an excellent place for parents and grandparents to hang out with their wards. It is a playground of knowledge where children are enriched by topics and skills that might not be taught in schools.
Social Media for Newbies courses are specially designed to help IT illiterates overcome their phobia of computers.
Our focus is on social media and editorial training. Firstly, communication is an industry we are familiar with. Secondly, over the last three decades, we have built a network of communication practitioners who are competent trainers. Thirdly, business and publicity is almost impossible without social media these days.
Commercial Writers: We are conducting affordable courses in editorial and social media. Once we have a pool of competent writers, we can look for suitable jobs and outsource to those who are keen to join us.
The advent of social media has created many opportunities for the communication industry. “Content is King!” was Biil Gate’s prediction in 1996. Many businesses need content to drive traffic to their websites. Content marketing creates multiple entry points to corporate websites. And fresh articles are needed regularly!
Creative Writers: Flexxi has established contacts with local and overses authors who can train writers in fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. We plan to hold story-telling sessions for children while parents attend the writing courses.
Start-ups & Newbies: To empower entrepreneurs to use social media for their businesses, we will be conducting “Skillsets for Startups” workshops. We also run “Social Media for Newbies” specially designed for the IT-illiterates with a fear of computers.
Experimenting with a software which instantly turns a Facebook Page into a website.
Participants set up their Facebook and Instagram accounts during the workshops and learn to use social media to market their products and services.
Highly critical! SY Phang comments: "Internet and smart phones were unheard of when I started freelancing in the 70s. Job flexibility becomes more achievable as technology advances.
"Now, I can collaborate with my associates and email the PDF of an entire magazine to a client. Technology is so empowering!"
Without a web or social media presence, we don’t have a competitive edge in this digital age. Even established retail businesses are affected by online marketing.
It’s urgent that we embrace disruptive technology so that we don’t get disrupted by it. That’s why technology updates are important features of Flexxi Networking Tea.
A discussion during Flexxi Networking Lunch when participants recalled how they had to bring their children to their offices when their babysitters took emergency leave.
Maybank representative (extreme right) giving a presentation on the bank's e-commerce payment programme.
Staying back to get extra coaching on Facebook marketing from Eunice Peh (third from right).
We organise networking lunches at a café at ‘The School by Jaya One’ on a weekday. This is because we want those working around the area to benefit from the knowledge-sharing sessions.
Our topics centre around technology updates, entrepreneurship, work-life balance, public speaking, time management, parenting and social media. As this is a community project, our speakers share their knowledge and experience on a voluntary basis. Participants just pay the café for the cost of their lunch.
This is also a platform for companies which offer flexible job packages to meet potential employees. Start-ups and home entrepreneurs can network among themselves and help each other promote their respective businesses.
While working on our business models, we are happy to collaborate with other entrepreneurs and corporations on projects that promote job flexibility.
Besides ensuring that children grow up with a strong parental presence, we are also eliminating talent wastage when workers opt out of the corporate world to seek for a better work-life balance.
The following are the initiatives we are planning at ‘The School by Jaya One’, an education mall that is children friendly and strategically located in Petalling Jaya.
Community Library & Learning Hub: This infrastructure is vital to our business model as it supports job flexibility and child care under one roof. We have approached a government body to set up a community library at the education mall. We hope to complement the library with a life-long learning hub for all age groups.
CSR Programmes: Once the community library is firmed up, we shall look for corporate partners who wish to run their CSR and educational programmes in a consistent manner at the Learning Hub.
Our target community groups are parents, children, homeschoolers, working adults, senior citizens and expatriates. We are keen to run programmes on health, safety, environment, recycling, financial literacy, parenting, cyber safety, mental health and nutrition
Training workshops: For sustainability, we will conduct work-related training workshops at affordable prices for start-ups and SMEs. We have a network of professional trainers who could run soft skill training in English Business Communication, Creative Writing, Presentation Skills, Media Relations, Marketing Communication, Customer Service and Social Media Marketing.
Children’s Workshops: We will invite people who are gifted in teaching children to conduct workshops on academic subjects or enrichment programmes such as critical thinking, problem solving, art, music, recycling, cultural diversity and creative writing. Parents of homeschoolers can also monetise their experience by sharing with others.
Together, we can encourage children to adopt good values and to “delight in simple things” that enrich their lives.
Co-working Space: This eco-system will overcome some challenges of working from home. It can also help corporations retain staff who might want to resign due to commuting challenges and family responsilbilities.
If this concept works, the business model could be duplicated in any other malls or housing estate.
We welcome home entrepreneurs and corporations to collaborate with Flexxi to work out solutions for young parents to achieve work-life integration.