Juggling to find a direct path to flexible work

Dolly Parton dished out harsh words about the pain of “Workin’ 9 to 5” in the song of the same name. In summary, she reckoned it’s “all takin and no givin” and “enough to drive you crazy if you let it”. Ask anyone trying to manage full-time work and other commitments and they may well agree. Being pinned down doesn’t suit a lot of people which is why Ciara Garvan set up WorkJuggle, a recruitment service that links skilled professionals to part-time, flexible, remote, and short-contract jobs.   

 “After the birth of my third child I happily took voluntary redundancy, but when I wanted to get back into the jobs market I found the process frustrating,” Garvan says. “I wanted a job with some flexibility or even a short-term contract, but found it so hard to get information about companies that supported flexible working. Recruitment agencies are mainly geared to permanent, full-time employment and jobs boards are soulless and dispiriting places. I really wanted a platform like WorkJuggle has become – a place where I could log in and directly connect with employers who were hiring flexibly.”

 Before setting up WorkJuggle Garvan spent 15 years in the technology sector working for companies such as Accenture, eir, Meteor and Symantec. Her academic background is in business (a B.Comm. from UCD) and she also has an MSc in Applied Computing from DIT.

 “Non-traditional working patterns suit many people, not just working parents like me,” she says. “WorkJuggle candidates also include millennials, IT workers living in rural Ireland who want to work remotely and not pay Dublin rents and those close to retirement who have great experience but don’t want to work five days a week anymore. WorkJuggle simply did not exist so I decided to create it.”

Enterpreneurs’ programme

 In 2016, Garvan participated in both phases of the New Frontiers entrepreneurs’ programme run jointly by NUI Maynooth and Athlone IT and earlier this year she took part in the DCU Ryan Academy Female High Fliers accelerator. While on New Frontiers she met Kim McKayed who has since become the company’s full-time technical director.

 “WorkJuggle is different from jobs boards in that our platform is curated, so we have spoken to and vetted all our candidates,” Garvan says. “Everyone is pre-screened so no fake profiles. Similarly, on the company side we work very closely with them to understand their culture and dynamics so no fake jobs just to attract CVs. Because all of the candidates are pre-screened, we ask them to create a profile only if we think they will be a good fit. WorkJuggle connects companies and candidates directly so there is no recruitment agency middle man.”

 To date there has been considerable interest in the platform from two sectors in particular – multinationals prepared to think beyond normal hiring methods and high-growth startups. “These innovative multinationals understand the importance of a diverse workforce and want to access a wider candidate pool than is available to them through traditional models,” Garvan says. “In the case of young companies scaling quickly, they need specific skills but don’t want the overhead of permanent hires.”

 WorkJuggle is a typical brainpower driven start-up that has cost more in thought and shoe leather than hard cash. Financially, the project has been bootstrapped with start-up costs kept to about €40,000. “From a technology perspective, we have relied on open-source technology,” Garvan says. “The platform was built using October, a free open source, self-hosted CMS platform. Our data sits in Microsoft’s Azure cloud [free to start-ups for two years]. The database server is MariaDB, again utilising open-source software.”

With its testing phase now over, WorkJuggle will be formally launched in September. The service is free for candidates while companies can choose to pay either a percentage of the salary or a monthly “talent as a service” subscription.

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