Caught yourself staring aimlessly out of the window recently, wishing you had a colleague to discuss last night’s telly with, whilst hoping the telephone rings with some news of a new project to get stuck into?
Such is the world of the freelancer – so much to do, so little time in which to do it, and yet, sometimes the self-reliant nature of the work gets to you and you end up settling for the bare minimum.
As desperately annoying as they can be, everyone needs a work mate around from time to time to help them maintain that curious work-life balance of in turns, keeping you sane and driving you in-sane. To survive in the world of tech start-ups, you need both, trust us!
Don’t be a lonely freelancer!
So how about a new start-up designed to solve both problems, the pipeline of work that is getting too narrow, and the solitude of working alone?
NewWorkMates.com describes itself as “a community where the self-employed can network, communicate and collaborate together, in a community just for them”.
A community just for you! Where you get to pick and choose your new work mates? It sounds too good to be true, so is it?
NewWorkmates.com was developed by Paul Hill, who reveals in a press release that he is “the founder of a London-based digital marketing company who experienced first-hand the challenges of trying to start-up, promote and grow a business alone.” Kudos to you, Paul!
But hey, nobody should have to go through all that alone! So how does NewWorkMates help?
Answer, quite straightforwardly. Once you are registered to the site and have created a profile, including your business type, job description, social interests and postcode, you become mapped into the site’s searchable database.
Now you can be found by anybody curious enough to want to meet near-neighbours, or people with a similar skill set, or in the same business sector as them, in a more casual and relaxed environment than if you have arranged, say, to “grab a coffee” in Paddington’s Starbucks, for example, or some other location where you have to lever yourself in and out of the seating booth with your laptop whilst trying to not to slip on somebody’s leftover caramel macchiato.
And of course you can use the searchable database yourself, and by “saving them to your network”, you can create a whole network of “virtual workmates” who you can reach out to as and when you need them.
For Me, For You, For-um!
There are also two forums which members have access to – The Business Connect forum allows to participants to swap business advice, share opportunities, request a “skill swap” or participate in a group discussion.
The Social Forum, on the other hand, is “aimed at tackling isolation”, and allows members not just to chat but to meet up, socialise, and attend events together.
The platform, says its founder, is open “to all self-employed, freelancers, sole traders and micro-business owners”, and “plans to provide more services as it develops”, based on feedback from users.
NewWorkMates, “built for the self-employed, by the self-employed, seems like a good idea. It’s early stage and there is no obvious route to monetisation, but if the network grows, exponentially, there soon will be! In the US, for example, a few thousand users gets you ten million dollars of investment!
Counterracting the (potentially) negative side of the “gig economy”.
The gig economy is increasingly making introverts of the workforce; we turn up, we do our job, we move on to the next gig – it’s a new and untested method, which doesn’t really require much interaction or co-operation, which makes it exciting and new, but the social ramifications, having not properly been investigated (good luck persuading Travis Kalanick to launch an Uber-Drivers Wellness Outreach Campaign – not going to happen) are potentially concerning.
So maybe there is a serious and sizeable business case for a site like NewWorkMates and again, excitingly, we don’t know how big, or how crazy, it might get. The combined brainpower of all those daydreamers, mixed with the dynamism a freelancer can show when they have the bit between their teeth, is worth harnessing.
Anyone who has used the assault on the senses (and not in a good way) that is Upwork will be screaming out for a platform where you can actually interact with somebody!
The Hardest Journeys begin with the Smallest Steps!
It’s likely that NewWorkMates biggest early-stage problem will be gaining a critical mass of users, without which, however good the idea, the platform is essentially powerless.
So, in the spirit of a site and a founder who “truly wants to provide a supportive and energizing community where its members can not only survive, but thrive” I’m signed up.
(Well actually, maybe I’ll wait until the tab browser doesn’t say “NoWorkMates”! That seems like kind of an unfortunate bug right there that needs fixing – and a great way to determine how responsive the site is to user-feedback, to boot!)
Ok, so it’s a glorified internet chat-room, (Google is a glorified search engine, by the way; Uber a glorified and highly technical means of sticking your thumb out and standing by the road) but it’s also doing a whole lot more than that – its standardising it for ease of use, providing convenient, helpful categorisations, and speeding up a process that some freelancers, the ones that need a platform like this the most, will take an age to do themselves.
So all good – now, will anybody be bored or desperate enough to add this freelancer to their network?!!
In all seriousness, we have generated tens of thousands of revenues this way for our consultancy Haggerston Tech & Media Services, and a platform that promises not just to send us more business opportunities, but intro us to like-minded folks who are fun to kill time at events with – well, that’ll be disruptive enough to hold our interest.
How about you?