Two important new organizations have sprung up this month to support the global freelance revolution. One focuses on advocacy, education and applied research in support of open talent in the UK. The other is more focused on supporting independent businesses and professional development in Spain. Both offer important examples of grassroots support for independent economic growth in their countries.
The first of these is the Association for the Future of Work set up in London three weeks ago. The nonprofit was conceived and is initially funded by Underpinned.com, and led by tech entrepreneur and Underpinned CEO Albert Azis-Clauson. Underpinned.com is an online platform that has trained and supported a community of over 50,000 freelancers. Azis-Clauson, a professional ballet dancer before succumbing to the lure of entrepreneurship, conceived of the Association as a kind of public square that would connect independent entrepreneurs, educators, researchers and business leaders and policies. It is hoped that the Association will provide a means of bringing together key stakeholders to address important issues – such as late payments, the UK education system’s narrow focus on full-time employment and taxation – thwarting progress in freelancing as legitimate and privileged. career path.
Those who gathered in London for an inaugural Association meeting included many high-level attendees from industry, ecosystem leaders and politicians. The group mainly included the Hon. Seema Malhotra, MP for Feltham and Heston and Shadow Employment Minister, Hon. Elizabeth Barclay, UK Small Business Commissioner, Member of the House of Lords, Viscount Charles Colville, and many of the largest participants in the freelance and solopreneurial movements: CEOs and senior executives of many UK-based global freelance platforms and marketplaces, such as Honeybook.com, YunoJuno.com, Talmix.com, Dweet.com, FreelancerClub.net, as well as representing major independent thought-leader organizations such as IPSE.co.uk, the Free Trade research group Europa and Open-Assembly.com.
The second new group that formed in the last two weeks was R-evolution Spain, bringing together several of the most important Spanish freelance platforms. The original spark to bring the Spanish indie community came from Outvise.com, but was soon joined by Malt.com, Shakers, Woki Consulting, Talentomnia.com and Connecting Visions. Combining both in-person and virtual participation, more than 150 freelance and independent entrepreneurs joined the first R-evolution Spain meeting. Their goals? First, as with the Association for Future Work, they believe that the Spanish governments at federal and provincial levels can help facilitate the work and contribution of freelancers. But, the goals also include an important community aspect. For example, a key initiative focuses on improving business understanding and acceptance of freelancers in Spanish industry. Another focuses on sharing best practices and collaborating to identify and find unique or “hard to find” customer expertise needs.
These two new organizations are emblematic of the maturation of the independent economy. The global freelance revolution feels like a small town, albeit a global one. Leaders tend to know each other directly or by reputation through common networks or relationships. And, as people meet at events, connect through venture capital networks and often participate in shared activities, they share a common challenge: how to accelerate enterprise-level self-employment support in their own country or region. Although an overwhelming majority of global companies rely on freelance talent to supplement their internal talent, there remains in many parts of the world an element of suspicion, a fear of talent risk, which has limited the growth of the self-employment. This is particularly the case in less mature economies. So, for example, an important common goal of R-evolution Spain is to work together to educate the market and establish the value, professionalism and expertise of Spanish freelancers.
But these two organizations are not alone. Around the world, and especially as financial conditions deteriorate, platforms and their freelancers understand the value of coming together for a common cause. We are noticing, for example, more so-called “pop-up” community building events. For example, two months ago, a group of Latin American platforms came together to explore compliance requirements in the United States. In less than half a day, seven independent marketplaces obtained the information needed to refine their plans for the United States and found a potential partner in Mybasepay.com to help them implement their plans.
A fourth type of organization, freelancebusiness.eu, created Independent Education Month in October this year. It’s a wonderful innovation, creating a lot of value, and there should be a way for other platforms to subscribe as a service to their members, or as a joint venture with the freelancebusiness.eu team. .
A fifth and final important example of community building is Open-Assembly.com and its sister organization, CTW, the Center for Work Transformation. Founded by open talent space pioneers John Winsor and Barry Matthews, OA works closely with companies to help them build a flexible, mixed workforce. The CTW branch led by John Healy, a longtime leader of the open talent movement, regularly brings together the largest community of freelancers to explore topics of common and important interest. It’s a place to be seen, heard, learn and contribute.
What does all this mean? According to the Corporate Finance Institute, the evolution of industries is generally described as a cycle of five phases: introduction, growth, disruption, maturity and decline. Self-employment now engages millions of people and generates over $1.2 trillion in GDP. Leaving job boards less than twenty years ago, it has already experienced extraordinary growth. We can expect more upheaval in the coming years as the global economy emerges from excessive inflation and recession. But, realistically, the independent economy is young. It is growing rapidly in size, reputation and impact. And we continue to see innovation after innovation increase in import.
If the freelance revolution is in transition (slow, not fast) from growth to collapse, the community mindset will help more platforms learn from best practices and adapt in ways that allow more of innovation. For example, more and more platforms are adopting a “freelancer first” philosophy and investing in ways to increase the success of freelancers. As one baseball fan might say, reflecting on the freelance revolution, “We’re still in the second or third innings of this game, and it’s one hell of a game!”
Long live the revolution!