Australia’s freelance economy has grown to over 4 million people, meaning nearly one third of our workforce now takes part in freelance work. That’s pretty huge. It’s no surprise then that there’s a growing demand for functional, collaborative and inspiring work spaces for this ever-growing flexible workforce.
Cam Rambert is the Co-founder of Freelance Australia, which champions the freelance workforce and is about to launch the Frankston Foundry Innovation Hub, a new co-working space.
Tell me a bit about Freelance Australia and what your role entails.
Freelance Australia was spawned from a naturally formed community of freelancers who meet regularly to be social, to share networks, and to connect. This formalised into Freelance Australia just over a year ago. There’s now over 1,500 freelancers in our community across Melbourne and Sydney. The purpose of Freelance Australia is to be the peak representative body for the independent workforce in Australia, especially for the more white collar industries such as digital and design.
In my role, I create relationships with government, and lobby for changes for small business. I’m also Freelance Australia’s main ambassador, so I speak at events on the pros of freelancing and how freelancers contribute to the economy.
You’re launching the Frankston Foundry Innovation Hub next week. What’s this all about?
It’s a freelance-friendly co-working space in Frankston which Freelance Australia is a shareholder in and which has just had its official opening to the public.
One of the reasons Frankston was chosen as the location for the Hub is because there’s lot of lifestyle businesses located there and a lot of freelancers in the area. I actually moved to the area myself a little while ago and was looking for a place to go to work and network. I guess I was partly scratching my own itch by seeding the idea of a co-working space in Frankston. The local council was really supportive though, so we decided to go for it.
Why are co-working spaces so important for freelancers and small businesses?
There’s a lot of reasons. For corporates, co-working spaces offer a nice break from the traditional work environment where it’s really easy to become distracted. It’s a change of scenery that’s still professional.
For freelancers it’s great because we get to cross-pollinate with like-minded people from different industries, who are in similar working situations. It facilitates collaboration for independent workers.
Based on the benefits of co-working that you’ve mentioned, do you think we might see a trend of small to medium businesses opting to work from co-working spaces despite being able to afford a larger space of their own?
I think so. The freelancing trend itself is increasing substantially – self-employment is on the rise. But there’s a social element that gets lost working by yourself, so there’s a desire to connect, to still have that human element. Co-working spaces service that. They provide the capacity to still do your own thing, but to be social and benefit from peer-to-peer mentoring.
You mentioned that you speak at events about how freelancers contribute to the economy. Is that something you need to educate people on?
Absolutely. This is much easier now due to the popularity of freelancing, but a lot of people still tend to perceive freelancing as not a real job, not a real business. In reality, it’s a strategic personal choice that people make. Not just for work life balance but for the ability to choose your clients, and really shape your work portfolio. It provides autonomy, and let’s you craft your own destiny. Without wanting to sound ridiculously wanky. [Laughs]
Regarding the economy, a lot of freelancers are entrepreneurs themselves, and a lot transition into traditional business and actually create jobs for others.
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