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In this day and age, with work from home being rather normal, it’s not surprising to hear that a business doesn’t have an office.

However, it’s not as common to hear of a business with no regular working hours or leave system, whereby employees are expected to just work as they please.

Choobub Creatives, a Malaysian marketing agency, subscribes to that idea.

In an interview with Vulcan Post, founder Eric Siew clarified that his agency doesn’t have a physical office, but does have a space at Iconik Co-Working Space for events and live-streaming purposes.

You’ve heard of work from anywhere, but Choobub employees also work from anytime. Each team member will set their own timing, while Eric typically makes himself available from morning to night.

“There’s a common understanding among us. As long as the job gets done, it’s all good.”

On top of that, Choobub also doesn’t have the conventional MC (medical certificate) or leave model. Rather, Eric offers unlimited paid time off to every employee, meaning they can take time off anytime they like.

“We classify it under the category of Flexible Private Time Off (PTO),” he spoke to how they approach Malaysia’s leave entitlement requirements.

“PTO may be used for a variety of reasons but is not limited to planned vacations, illness, family illness, household emergencies, or other personal matters that require the person to take time off from work,” he elaborated. “In its essence, the person can take as many leaves and MCs as needed without a cap.”

Before getting into why Eric does this, and how he executes it, here’s some background on the founder.

Leveraging past experiences

A doctor by training, Eric spent 17 years in healthcare before transitioning to run his own marketing company.

Image Credit: Choobub Creatives

It’s not his first experience outside of healthcare. While working as a doctor in Singapore, he managed a KL-based ecommerce business on the side, which was where he met his current business partner, Selena Kaw.

Together, they started Choobub Creatives, which focuses on content marketing that builds thought leadership and generates awareness organically.

The firm stands out because of Eric’s background as a doctor, making them a good choice for clients in the healthcare sector.

Aside from his medical know-how, healthcare also taught him how to interact with other humans, which has given him his community-building chops. This explains why he often writes about his entrepreneurial journey on platforms like LinkedIn.

Cherry-picking his own team

Whenever he shares online about his unique methods, people often comment their concerns over the unconventional method and how employees may take advantage of the system.

Eric recognises that his ways leave room for the possibility of abuse. But he believes that’s easily circumvented by the fact that he handpicks his staff.

Now eight employees strong, Choobub never posts job openings.

“The ones who joined the team knew of my approach long before I got them to join,” Eric shared. “I do not conduct interviews. When the time was right, I asked them directly to join.”

Thanks to his LinkedIn posts, Eric often gets invitations for coffee sessions. Through these sessions, he gets to interact with people on a personal level.

Image Credit: Choobub Creatives

Having experienced a fair share of exposure to toxic environments, Eric knew what he didn’t want within the company. Rather, there are three qualities he looks for.

The first is integrity, meaning team members must have a strong level of righteousness.

“I dealt with unethical types in the past, and it left a sour aftertaste. I doubt anyone would want them in a company,” he said.

He also looks for tenacity in his staff, often keeping track of individuals who grew up in a harsh environment and overcame obstacles.

“The ones who went through such moments can withstand the challenges ahead without breaking,” he reasoned.

Finally, Eric searches for kindness. Not only should his team be kind to one another, but also thoughtful to clients and rivals.

“Let money be a secondary priority, and put human beings first. Our ancestors survived through collaborations in the past, and it is how we’ll thrive in the future, too.”

Accountability matters, too. While he offers unlimited paid time off, that doesn’t mean people can just take off without informing the team.

Fostering trust

So far, Eric’s systems seem to be working. Choobub is entering its fourth year now, and every team member has taken time off as they please, the founder shared.  

The “why” behind his methods is pretty simple. He believes that it’s important in a company for everyone to trust each other, and what better way than to leave how they work up to themselves?

“I want to trust in the good side of human beings, too,” he shared. “And over time, people will reciprocate.”

In other words, “To earn trust, we will need to give it first.”

Of course, trusting others is easier said than done, even for Eric. But he has realised that if he can’t trust the team, it defeats the purpose of getting them onboard in the first place.

To continually foster a united team that trusts one another, Eric has five methods that he deploys:

  • Be the last to speak
  • Remain neutral instead of showing favouritism
  • Start difficult conversations
  • Understand each other
  • Approach each other on an equal standing

He elaborates on these points in one of his LinkedIn articles, which you can read here.

Still, how can Eric be so sure that his employees trust him back? Personally, I’m the kind of person who would feel shy to take leaves for no “real” reason even when prompted.

To that, Eric said, “We treat the team as adults. When it’s time to take them, they take them automatically. I don’t have to force them, and they’re not shy to take them either.”

Replicating the system

Those who want to try out Eric’s system must know, though, it’s not exactly the best method if you’re only concerned about making big bucks.

Eric himself said that for entrepreneurs who are thinking about going this route, they should make sure they have adequate resources first.

Image Credit: Choobub Creatives

Knowing that running a business alone can be tough, Eric also emphasised on the importance of looking out for the right people to join the team whenever appropriate.

On that note, he shared that Choobub does have plans to expand. Interestingly, he plans to continue his current model even as he scales his team. “I would be keen to witness the outcome of applying it to bigger teams and make some tweaks along the way.”

Of course, Eric’s approach may not work for everyone. However, his focus on mutual trust and cultivating an independent team are values that entrepreneurs in various industries can learn from.  

  • Learn more about Choobub Creatives here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Choobub Creatives

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)