The Future of Freelancing

Izzy Lawrence starts her bi-monthly series on technology, the web and everything in between.

Izzy Lawrence is an all-round creative, a DJ, TV presenter and technology expert. This is the first post in a new regular series that Izzy will be filing for The Good Web Guide, with this week's focus on freelancing. Izzy writes...

Freelancing can suck; constantly chasing invoices and negotiating the murky territory of future work. It can be enough to turn the most free-spirited person into a wage slave evangelist. However, every now and again you meet the happy freelancer, the person that has perfectly mastered pro rata pay and achieved a zen state of mind about the uncertainty of upcoming work. I’m intrigued by a growing number of friends and colleagues moving into the happy freelancer state and noticing the trend for freelancer co-working spaces in cities or even beaches around the world.

Industries are changing, the need to be 9-5 Monday to Friday in an office is rapidly shifting, most of us can work from our laptops. But we know this. What’s interesting in this space is that there are a growing number of freelance communities that are providing infrastructure for the hardships and let's face it downright loneliness that freelancers can feel.

We first saw freelancer communities develop with the likes of co-working spaces in cities; Ahoy! in Berlin, Utopic in Madrid and SohoCollective London and other communal office spaces that you can rent for a small fee. In lots of creative jobs, collaboration is the key. So now you no longer need an office and you no longer need to be a lone wolf in the freelancing world. That problem is solved. However, a few communities around the world have taken this to the next level and it leaves me wondering what is the future of freelancing?

I am writing this from Lamu, Kenya where the second series of HackerBeach, a month-long spontaneous, self-organised gathering of hackers is taking place. I met the hackers here and became intrigued with their story. Last year they went to Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam and next year they are thinking Mauritius – a different tropical island each January. Some of them are working remotely for companies such as Mozilla or GitHub whereas others are working on their own projects.


SleepOut.com, which attended this year's event, helps travellers book unique accommodation in remote destinations across Africa and the Middle East. The Mauritius-based team facilitated a one-month stay for the HackerBeach crew in a 10,000 square foot beachfront Omani-inspired castle, dubbed The Fort. Johann Jenson, CEO of SleepOut.com remarked that, "We are finding more and more travellers seeking long stays in remote beach destinations from Cape Verde to Seychelles and Mauritius. They all have one request in common: internet connectivity."

As industries are changing and the need for coders, developers and UX designers is growing, remote work is going to become more frequent and it begs the question – how often do you need to touch base with your team in person to really get your work done? An interesting thing I found when speaking with the hackers is that when the wifi collapsed they were at times more productive, it’s an imposed information diet. So if they are not relying on constant connectivity they will plan better, spend less time on Facebook and use the web more efficiently. Maybe it's time we thought of becoming professional nomads.

If connectivity is no longer an issue, the future of freelancing really could get interesting. Co-working space trip anyone? I think personally I'll stick to the beach, at least for now.

FUTURE OF FREELANCING TIPS

Up for a bit more of an adventure:
Try the beach - hackerbeach.org
Or the snowy mountains of Utah: www.summit.co/

Or design your own:
Book tropical island houses with sleepout.com

Perfect for Professional Nomads:
www.guru.com
www.odesk.com

22 January 2014

Izzy Lawrence