Hi Folks! Thanks for tuning in again to the Coworking Values Podcast, one of the Top 10 Coworking Podcasts You Must Follow in 2020. (wink wink)
For this episode, we have Bernie and Zeljko, your hosts, “rambling” about how everything is at the moment. What is going on in their respective ends, about the freelancing industry and being a freelancer for about a decade now.
They also talk about how the freelancing industry is fairing nowadays with the current pandemic, government support or the lack thereof. They also delve into NOOK and Lifi. And of course the events for the freelancing and coworking community that is currently happening and will be happening in the next few months left in this year, 2020.
Bernie J Mitchel 0:03
Hello ladies, gentlemen and welcome to this week’s edition of the Coworking Values podcast. The world’s favourite coworking podcast. We’re back after a long absence, my good friend, Zeljko, how are you, sir?
Zeljko Crnjaković 0:15
I’m very good. Thank you, Bernie. I do think that it’s one of five coworking podcasts in the world.
Bernie J Mitchel 0:24
I feel like Henry Ford when he found out about Mercedes Benz.
Zeljko Crnjaković 0:30
I’m not really sure how many there are or how many there have been, or how many people try to do them, but we’re definitely the most persistent.
Bernie J Mitchel 0:41
I’d say that I’ve craved this persistency and consistency, which both mean the same things in some languages, over my content generating life. Should we skip to the ad?
Zeljko Crnjaković 1:04
This episode is brought to you by Cobot, our leading management software for coworking spaces, office hubs and flexible workspaces around the world. You know, one of the best things about Cobot is that it is produced by people who manage a coworking space and know the ins and outs of the main problems and issues, bugging coworking managers. So, if you want more time for your co-workers and community, check out Cobot at cobot.me and take your coworking management to the next level.
And that was me talking about Cobot. So, it’s wonderful how I managed to sound, every week, completely the same even when I’m not here. So, Bernie, we haven’t talked for a while and this episode we don’t have a guest. So, how have you been?
Bernie J Mitchel 1:55
I’ve been, as we said, when we first got on the call, I’ve been hectic, but good.
Zeljko Crnjaković 2:00
Yeah, I noticed your email yesterday. You do send out that newsletter, Bernie J. Mitchell. And everybody that is subscribed is always itching for the next one. And I noticed that you have had too many things going on in the basketball peaks?
Bernie J Mitchel 2:25
I have definitely had too many things going on.
Zeljko Crnjaković 2:28
Why? Why is that?
Bernie J Mitchel 2:30
Well, funny you should ask what we’re doing. Right now, as we’re recording, and we’re going to publish this tomorrow, we’re in the middle of Freelancers’ Week, which has been a crazy, exciting and heart stopping scramble of attempting to get people to notice. It’s always hard work. But normally getting people to run events during Freelancers’ Week, and this is the fifth year we’ve done, is pretty easy because you get a room and put some people in it and do something. And as we’ve gone through the communication and promotion and sorting things out, every week the rule was changed. Even this morning, we were installing a nook with a li-fi connection in a coworking space in London, and there was a whole load of things that changed due to regulations and stuff like that.
Zeljko Crnjaković 3:31
I’m going to stop you there for all the listeners out there. What is a nook? And what is li-fi?
Bernie J Mitchel 3:38
A nook is like a little windy house on wheels that we sat in. You’ll see them at Coworking Europe and other conferences. I sat in one and I do believe they’re awesome and great and fun to use and see.
Zeljko Crnjaković 4:04
But I’m not sure about the listeners. That’s why I’m letting you just promote David for this and maybe they will consider being a sponsor.
Bernie J Mitchel 4:17
It’s a little windy house where two people can sit in. I wouldn’t say it’s soundproof but it’s sound conditioned. So, you get in and the lining absorbs all the sounds. Where a lot of people listening have used them is at the coworking conferences and you step out a busy hallway into a nook and you can have a quiet conversation. You record a podcast in their conferences, its beautiful and lighting can be adjusted in there. Li-fi is an internet connection that comes via lights. So, in the pod, you can have your very own internet connection which is super secure and very robust. So, if we were recording a podcast or streaming a video, the upload and the download speed is really, really consistent. So, that’s what we’re putting together.
Zeljko Crnjaković 5:16
Let me let me ask you this, it’s coming through the lights, or does your computer need to have some sort of light panel attached it to it?
Bernie J Mitchel 5:27
It has to have a little dongle that you plug in, and that’s how we used the connection. I don’t want to misrepresent them, but that’s kind of it. It’s like a supernatural intervention. By doing that, the only way you can interrupt the internet connection is by shutting off the lights. But people can’t because the connection is between you, your light, and your machine. It’s not like people can hack into it or anything like that. So, it’s very secure.
Zeljko Crnjaković 6:10
So, it’s definitely secure and the good people at Philips invented that if I’m not mistaken, right?
Bernie J Mitchel 6:18
Zeljko Crnjaković 6:21
So much innovation going on nowadays. Okay, cool. So, we got a nook, we got Li-fi, and we got new preventive measures in London. So, how’s that been going?
Bernie J Mitchel 6:36
Very preventive. I don’t know if you saw our good friend, Hector? As soon as it was announced, he put out a single repost, which we can put in the show notes about what the new measures mean for London. And we were on a call with the Mayor of London who has a workspace organization. We had 100 coworking operators and community managers who turned up for a call with the mayor’s office and capital enterprise to talk about how we’re going to deal with this going forward, and, the workspace accreditation scheme that’s just been launched in London, so 10 spaces, and are recognized by the mayor’s office as to the standard of being a coworking space. They’re recognized as a coworking space.
Zeljko Crnjaković 7:30
I don’t want to put a dark, you know, cloud over it. I’m getting a feeling from what you just said that the politics have gotten involved in coworking and now we have something that the system should recognize as a coworking space opposed to every coworking space so far being a co working space.
Bernie J Mitchel 7:57
It is led out with the best intention.
Zeljko Crnjaković 8:05
As I said, I don’t want to be too dark about it. But as far as where I come from in Serbia, when the system gets involved, it’s usually bad. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be so in London.
Bernie J Mitchel 8:24
I think that too. An in my experience, every time you turn up to a government led business support initiative, it’s like stepping on a landmine. There have been several times in my past where I have had the worst advice ever from a government backed agency. And this time, I think we’re in the middle of a rapidly unfolding new industry, because I mean, we’ve been around it for like a decade now, but it is a very new thing. In 2015 there was something like 50 people would stand up and say, I’m a coworking space in London, by the end of 2015 there were hundreds. I am deeply suspicious of any government intervention in anything ever, but this is the mayor’s office and Capital Enterprise who are employed by the mayor’s office going out of their way to support, and I think that’s been enhanced by the COVID situation. So, while there are definitely tricky bits in here, is the mayor of London’s office making a huge effort to go “Ahh this workspace industry thing is a little bit more than just some cool people trying to have offices and calling them something different”. The actual role as we’ve been banging on about the 15 Minutes City and local coworking, and the stuff we talked about with Kofi is getting acknowledged. And that’s always a good thing.
Zeljko Crnjaković 10:09
And then I always salute people doing good things, even if they got involved in politics, apparently. So, let’s say that the system can do some good sometimes. The Freelancers’ week is on in full swing. So, what’s going on with that? Do we have so many events going on?
Bernie J Mitchel 10:35
The last time I checked, there are about 60 events going on online and we’re sending out a newsletter every day, with a roundup of events, and they’re in different languages as well, which is really important because some people think that even though only 30% of the of Europe have English as their native language, some people think coworking can only happen in English. So, I was really pleased for people to put events on it in their native language. And they are ranging from mental health to, our own sponsor, Cobot, doing a good event about how coworking and freelancing can work together moving forward. We’ll put a link to that in the show notes. And then I’m going to attempt to remember where the events are.
Zeljko Crnjaković 11:33
I want to shout out about one, it’s the Coworking Co-living Conference in Europe going on Thursday this week, which is the 22nd of October online, and everybody should just register. It’s going to be a fun two and a half, three hours of online discussions and a lot of online guests all around the world, myself included.
Bernie J Mitchel 12:06
Geez, Zeljko, what are you doing at that event?
Zeljko Crnjaković 12:10
So, I tried to convince Misha that I may not need this event. But then my ego stepped in, so I didn’t. Actually, I’m so thrilled to be going on. I’m actually going through that event in real life to be recorded for you all guys who are going to follow us online. And I’m so thrilled to just be going out to an event where five people will be coming to talk in real life, but I’m definitely excited. We’re going to talk about freelancers and the ‘what now’ situation in the new future. And what’s the freelance market looking like today?
Bernie J Mitchel 13:09
Something happened, because we have a big list for the European Freelancers’ Week and with all my emails saying hit reply if you have a question or a comment, more people email back and some people have been saying great to see this again, and some people said who are you? And a few people have said, things like, I don’t know how we’re supposed to survive in this situation. It’s always been hard as a freelancer. It’s the toughest industry in the world. And it’s certainly not easy. What do you think it is now? Is it going to be even tougher? Or is it going to erupt into something?
Zeljko Crnjaković 14:00
I don’t want to reveal my cards and I know that some of my colleagues that are on the panel which I’m in, which are Kofi, and then Pedro. I know Pedro’s who’s been involved heavily in Top Towel, which was the leading platform for the top 1% or 5% of highly skilled freelancers. I know that he already stated in one podcast I listened to that the freelance market is in decline. And I don’t know how to respond to that. But because I think there is going to be a big discussion on it as far as us three are concerned because I am not sharing that opinion. I can agree with world numbers world statistics and stuff like that, but every person I know who is working as a freelancer is working non-stop. I can say for myself I don’t know the true definition of a freelancer because it may vary. I may not be considered by some people as a regular -by definition- freelancer because I don’t work on freelance platforms and Upwork and stuff like that.
I own a small agency on I’m an entrepreneur, but I’m a one man show. And I do have people I work with, in the sense of some other freelancers that I cooperate with for the sake of doing my projects. But the business has been ticking. I may have had a decline in March, April, May. But since then, it’s on a very uptick scale. And additionally, just an educated opinion, talking to big companies and seeing just the market, or hearing my clients, what they say to me is basically that big companies that have had an impact about going remote or needed to save money, because the world crisis has been going on, and then stuff like that, and you’re spending only on what you need. There’s little innovation happening. And imagine that you’re now in need of a project. And instead of hiring people inhouse to do it like some companies may do, or may have had a policy to do, to develop new teams, to build on that project. If it’s a short-term project that they’re not sure about, or it’s a marketing or its content, or it’s video production, which I’m involved in. So, they’re more inclined to go out and do a project with an already established agency that is working by itself, which they will pay by project. I’m seeing a boom in the gig economy. So, instead of going in-house and investing, they’re saving money and doing things. So, there are really quite a lot of opportunities for small entrepreneurs, to grab the chance and develop their businesses.
Bernie J Mitchel 17:57
I really agree with that. All right, that’s pretty much word for word what I would have said, and I think I’m always a bit aware of how easy it is to say, well as a great booming period. When you’re someone who owns their own house in London, with a wife and a full-time job, that is definitely precarious. And there’s a lot of uncertainty around, but I hear of other people losing. I know a lot of people who have lost their jobs, but I don’t know a lot of freelancers that are out of work. And that’s a pretty huge distinction.
Zeljko Crnjaković 18:36
Bernie, but that happens. So, I’m not going to go out and say all the freelancers are booming with business and everything’s as usual. No, it isn’t. But we are adapting as we are constantly, not just with COVID but in any point. So, I’m going to go and say if you’re an entrepreneur, you had had a COVID situation every year. There are a couple of months or maybe more than a couple of months each year that you have had a problem dealing with it. There are no clients, there is no business, there is less traction, marketing is not working, what the fuck is happening. And it happens. Being an entrepreneur is like a scale constantly going up, down, up, down, and if you’re not used to it, you’re definitely not cut out to be an entrepreneur or a freelancer or whatever it is. Defining a normal for you or how to handle yourself when the business is down and adapting to new situations is kind of the main thing about being a freelancer, entrepreneur, whatever you want to call it.
Entrepreneurs are very much like freelancers, even though we can say yes, we’re an agency, yes, I don’t work on Upwork or Elance, or Fibre or whatever it is, but I do direct marketing to my clients, and each of my clients is a client for a project that I’m not going to be hired like an employee for the next five years. But actually, for two months, three months, six-month project, and I do have multiple clients.
Bernie J Mitchel 20:59
I agree. I’m starting to agree with everything in this podcast, but I agree with that too. I think that’s one of the reasons that the people in the freelance world are able to deal with this better than people who have just been used to going to a job. I get a lot of anxiety and I’ve had depression and stuff in the past. So, when all this hit, I knew the mental tax on people as all the COVID stuff took shape. It’s kind of like how I operate anyway. The world bended a little bit to the state most of the time, which I’ve learned to deal with overtime. I’m not trying to romanticize being a freelancer, but when you’re always in flux and not known, I hear people call saying you have to kill what you eat or eat what you kill. You are always on the lookout for something else because if you don’t keep your sales funnel, or your customer relationships going, it’s not someone who is going to send you a paycheck by magic. So, you have to always be looking for stuff. Something I wanted to add in there is there’s a lot of people, I’m always standing in this room talking to people at the beginning and they are like, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to do. And then there were all these people that did all these videos about how to cope with what’s going on. And there’s a lot of stuff about mental wellbeing and comparing the situation we’re in now to the 2008 economic crisis and what came out of that, and all these things that come out 9/11 and 2008. And now we know something’s going to come out of this. The constraints put on businesses mean that people have to think even harder. This is a time of opportunity. So, I’m standing in this room and sort of watching those videos and like some turmoil. A lot of people I was talking to then are now doing something completely different. Extending their skill set. They’re running online courses, whereas before they were doing in person consulting or something like that. The move to developing your skill, but in a different field, is what I’ve seen a lot of people do.
Zeljko Crnjaković 23:55
I totally agree. I think we need to wrap up because we’re on the same page, and people have heard. They have the closure on this topic. I do have several other things to talk about, but I do believe that we’re going to leave them for the next show, because they’ll take up another 30 minutes. And Bernie Cliff-hanger. Yeah. Cliff-hanger. The situation is developing day per day, so we’ll see what happens by next week. Stay tuned. How’s that for people? You know, just relying on us recording the next podcast episode. Bernie, do you have anything to say for the end?
Bernie J Mitchel 24:46
Just go to the show notes for this episode and go to Coworking Co-living conference in Southeast Europe on Thursday morning.
Zeljko Crnjaković 25:14
Thank you for listening. That was Bernie and me just ranting on about stuff going on in our lives and see you on every events in the Freelancers’ Week. Check it out on the websites for European Freelancers’ week, as well as the Coworking Co-living Conference of south eastern Europe. That’s cccse.com, and also check out the coworkingassembly.eu website, subscribe to our podcasts, subscribe to the newsletter.
Bernie J Mitchel 25:58
And we need to get less websites.
Zeljko Crnjaković 26:01
Yeah, more landing pages. Anyway, next week.
Bernie J Mitchel 26:05