Ryan Gondokusumo, Sribu: “with the rise of remote work, there has been a growing demand for digital literacy”

The nature of work is changing as digitalization continues to expand across all industries. With more opportunities for companies to develop relationships with employees from across the globe, it’s become evident that digital skills include staying current on cybersecurity measures.

Highly sought-after workers are those professionals who stay familiar with all aspects of digital tools. That means staying updated on the leading online data and security procedures. Challenges companies of all sizes face are keeping secure connections when they collaborate with freelancers and teams from all parts of the world. Failing to keep those communications and file-sharing secure will only make it easier for cyberattacks.

To help shed some light on the importance of cybersecurity measures, we had a conversation with Ryan Gondokusumo, CEO of Sribu – a content services platform that gives businesses access to a pool of professional freelancers.

How did the idea of Sribu come to life? What has your journey been like since your launch?

The idea started in 2010 when I was still working at my previous company, a travel agency. We needed a poster designed for a campaign. I waited for 3 days and received 3 poster designs from our designer. Dissatisfied with our designers' work, I posted a contest on Kaskus, one of Indonesians' largest forum sites. We received more than 300 poster designs in 2 days! The sheer number and quality of designs that we got were fascinating. This led me to start Sribu in 2011.

Sribu’s concept was a contest platform. Along the way, we evolved the site into a freelancing platform. It focuses on the Indonesian market. Its vision is to produce digital content while having a positive impact on small, medium, and large companies, which includes Indonesian freelancers. The journey has been a roller coaster. We raised a few rounds of funds and went through many difficult moments. Challenges included our company almost closing down. Still, we persevered and got acquired by Mynavi Japan in 2022.

Can you introduce us to what you do? What are the main problems you help solve?

Our current main product is Sribu. The platform gives businesses access to various talented Freelancers. So they can get the help they need on one platform. Services include programming, web design, graphic design, voice-over, video making, article writing, email writing, and more. Our Sribu system leverages performance data to make the freelancer selection process easy and reliable – every time.

Once connected, clients can work together with freelancers via our workspace tool. Sribulancer has helped more than 30.000+ clients thanks to our community of 28,000 freelance professionals.

In what ways can companies benefit from hiring freelancers?

There are 3 main problems in the current hiring market:

  • Long duration to find the right workers (up to 35 - 40 days)
  • The salary of a full-time worker - Fixed cost (salary/month) + 13th salary
  • The workers' portfolio and CV do not match their statements from when they started working in the company. This is the most common problem. The interviewer could only filter and question so much during the interview process.

With our solution,

  • It’s fast to find a match (5 min only)
  • Cheaper variable cost per job & contract (no benefit cost)
  • Check out reviews from previous clients on our website – Clients will see the freelancer’s previous work and review it before hiring them.

How do you think the pandemic has affected the hiring landscape?

The most significant shift has been the widespread adoption of remote work. Companies are hiring more employees who work from home, either part-time or full-time. This has broadened the talent pool because it has reduced geographical constraints.

With the rise of remote work, there has been a growing demand for digital literacy. The emphasis is on reliable digital skills. Candidates in high demand are those familiar with digital and project management tools, online communication platforms, and cybersecurity.

Certain sectors have seen a boom in job demand due to the pandemic. Sectors such as healthcare, e-commerce, online education, and tech. The hospitality, travel, and retail sectors have seen a decrease in demand.

Most companies have moved their hiring process online. Virtual recruitment, including interviews, remote assessments, and online onboarding, has become the norm. It has led to a faster hiring process in some cases. But, it also brings new challenges in candidate assessment and integration.

There's a rising trend of employers focusing more on skills and less on degrees. The rapid change in work requirements led to the growing importance of transferable skills. Problem-solving, adaptability, and digital skills are more sought-after than degrees.

Many of these trends were already in motion before the pandemic. The crisis has accelerated their adoption. It's expected that these changes will continue to shape the hiring landscape in the post-pandemic era. The exact impacts can vary by industry, region, and individual company.

What are the most common issues organizations run into when managing a team based all over the world?

Communication and collaboration are prevalent issues in managing a global team. Different time zones make it difficult to schedule meetings or collaborate in real time. There are also language barriers and cultural differences that could lead to misunderstandings. The lack of face-to-face communication can make it hard to build rapport. It all has an impact on intrapersonal relationships. Establishing strong relationships within the team is challenging.

Technology and infrastructure of freelancers are considerations we look at. Not every team member can access reliable internet or the necessary tools for effective remote work. This can cause delays, reduce productivity, and increase frustration. Ensuring all team members have access to and training in using the required software is hard. That includes learning how to use communication and collaboration platforms.

With team members scattered around the world, it can be difficult to manage performance and accountability. Traditional management styles may not be as effective. Managers may need to adopt a results-oriented approach. There's also the risk of remote working professionals feeling isolated or disengaged. This will impact productivity and morale.

There are a variety of strategies organizations can use to address these challenges. For instance, using collaboration tools, implementing clear communication protocols, providing training, and adopting flexible but results-oriented management practices. Building a strong organizational culture that values diversity and inclusivity can also help in overcoming some of these challenges.

In your opinion, what cybersecurity measures are essential for remote-working freelancers?

Use a secure, private network connection for work whenever possible. If you need to use public Wi-Fi, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The best VPN can encrypt your connection and protect your data.

Use strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts. Consider using a password manager to help you manage your passwords securely.

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible. It's an extra layer of security because it requires two types of identification before granting access to an account.

Secure your devices. If your work device gets lost or stolen, it can expose your data. Ensure that all your devices are password-protected and encrypted. Also, consider a remote wipe capability for such situations.

Develop a routine for backing up your data. Use either an external hard drive or a secure cloud service. In case of a ransomware attack or system failure, you can restore your data without a major loss.

Recently, maintaining creativity has been a serious struggle for some organizations. How can companies foster creativity and innovation when the majority of employees are working remotely?

Promote a culture of open communication. Encourage your team to share their ideas and opinions. Make it clear that all ideas, no matter how "out there" they might seem, are welcome and heard.

Leverage technology. Use collaborative platforms and tools that streamline brainstorming and idea-sharing. Use tools like Miro, Trello, or Slack to create virtual "idea boards," have brainstorming sessions, and encourage open communication.

Have regular virtual meetings. Schedule regular team meetings or creative sessions where everyone can share their thoughts and ideas. These sessions should be inclusive and open, encouraging participation from everyone.

Empower your employees. Give employees the autonomy and freedom to experiment and make decisions. When employees feel trusted and valued, they are more likely to take creative risks.

Leaders should model creativity and innovative thinking. Leadership means supporting the team in their creative endeavors. It means taking steps to remove any roadblocks.

What do you think the average workplace is going to look like in the next few years?

Hybrid work environments are on the rise. With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have explored remote work. It's a trend that will likely continue in some form. A blend of in-person and remote work (a "hybrid" model) could become more common. Employees might work from home some days. They may come into the office on other days. It's a model that allows more flexibility in remote work and in-person work. There's still an opportunity for collaboration and camaraderie in in-person work.

There's an increase in digital collaboration. The tools used for communication and collaboration are likely to continue to evolve. Platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and others will add more features. They will become even more integrated into daily workflows. Other technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, may also get used more for collaboration, training, and meetings.

Focus on employee well-being. The focus on the mental health and well-being of employees has increased. It's a trend that will continue. Workplaces should offer more resources for stress management, mental health support, and work-life balance. There might be more flexibility in working hours to accommodate different life situations and schedules.

Technology is advancing. There will be an increased need for continuous learning and upskilling. Employers may provide more resources for training and development. There may be a greater emphasis on skills like adaptability and digital literacy.

Would you like to share what’s next for Sribu?

Currently, we are still focusing on the Indonesian market. It's still a massive, untapped market. We are planning to expand to English-speaking countries first. For instance, we're expanding to Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong in the future. We're doing so one country at a time.

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