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Defining Freelance for Collaboration

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Allen Matsika
Allen Matsika

Being an Entrepreneur

My friend pointed to my string of failed startups and compared with his life where he had no history of entrepreneurship. He was suggesting he wasn’t as entrepreneurial as I was. I responded by enumerating some known characteristics of entrepreneurs and how he embodied them. He said to me, “Allen, we need to be careful, or else we will lose the meaning of a word when we apply it that way.” I laughed then and I laugh now. In this article, we run the risk of losing some meaning of the word freelance. All in the service of my hope to open people’s eyes to how collaboration is the future of freelance. Even the metaverse is being built through the collaboration of several actors.

The definition of freelance reads: 

Working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company. 

This definition fits very well with the trends the world over. To begin with; more people have been changing jobs and careers more often than before. This also includes changing employers more often. People are working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company. One could say people are behaving like freelancers, and their projects for companies last a couple of years rather than a couple of months.

The pandemic and the great resignation add to this expansion of the word freelancer to encompass more people. With the introduction of lockdown measures, many employees found themselves working from home. Working from home is something from the freelancer world. Also, there has been a huge exodus of workers from the standard workforce. The beginning of people pursuing different interests to earn a living in what has been dubbed, the great resignation. There is a sense in which the old work culture is dying and a new one is emerging. The sense of individuality and ownership of company projects has been growing. As has the impression of one’s own contributions and skillsets.

There is sense in which freelancers and company employees are experiencing very similar ways of doing work. Employees are enjoying working from home, and using dead time for errands and chores. The division between employee and someone with a life outside of work is becoming paper-thin. Babies are coming to zoom meetings. People are pausing a Zoom meeting to help a child with something or to let the pet out. Work and home are blending for employees as has been the case with freelancers for a long time. One big exception is that, the employees also have a ready community of other employees a zoom call away. A ready team to collaborate with. These employees have the best of both worlds. They have the advantages of freelance work, plus the corporate team structures carry. 

The freelance world has not been able to rise to the team or collaboration level, because there have been so many barriers. One of them may be, the very definition of freelancer. For many people being a freelancer is about being working alone in addition to working independently. But as has been shown above, the definition is fluid and expanding. Collaboration can now be a part of this defintiion. Employees, changing jobs often, working from home, blending personal and work life, and still a part of a team are just like freelancers. 

As corporate structures have evolved, freelancing needs to evolve as well. Corporate structures have adopted some of the freelance goodness. How can the freelance world adopt some of the corporate good of team and collaboration? The freelancers at Collabokit are working on this very question. And if you are are a freelancer, we want to invite you to share your thoughts with us in this survey.

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