Last week, about 500 agency people got together in Manhattan to learn about how to grow their businesses. It was the annual conference put on by Mirren and it included speakers from Droga5, R/GA and Nike. I had the privilege of speaking at the event to explain our business model and how we swarm freelancers together to accomplish great things.
The ad world has changed drastically and agencies that are able to adapt will continue to increase profit, effectiveness and a culture that retains the best talent. 40% of the workforce will be independent by 2020* so finding and retaining talent will continue to be incredibly difficult. People are fleeing the corporate world and attracted to the flexibility, autonomy and excitement of working on their own. Having a mindset of WE and doing things together can help your agency in ways you can’t even imagine.
We have created a structure that individuals can work together on advertising and design projects and give clients amazing creative results without taking on all the overhead and fluff of traditional agencies. Agencies can use some of these pieces to adapt their model, becoming more agile, profitable and creative all at the same time.
We call it WELANCE. A place and system bringing individual freelancers together, managed by some of the industry’s best project management.
Here are some outtakes of how the system is built:
W: The Workspace and how it’s configured is critical. Research shows that workspace can directly affect stress levels, problem solving and motivation. Our space is designed with multiple types of work styles (standing, sitting, social, team pow-wows, eating, etc).
E: Education helps freelancers and employees stay at the top of their game. We utilize EdgeRocket so anyone interested can access online classes (free and paid) to learn new skills.
L: Having a Lab mindset can open up creative ideas that ultimately will help the business grow. Foster an environment where employees and freelancers have time to tinker and try new things. Google is famous for giving employees 20% of their work time to work on projects of their choice. The book The 20% Doctrine shows how letting employees tinker and ideate can grow your business.
A: Giving access to creative Assets is important to a freelancer and/or employee’s success. We created a shared folder on dropbox for freelancers to upload or download creative assets such as fonts, icons, stock photos or anything else they have the rights to.
N: Building a solid Network of freelancers can double or triple your talent pool helping you fill skill gaps when you need it. Ask employees who they know and put someone at your agency or company in charge of managing the talent pool. We use Insight.ly to capture everyone’s vitals which lets us sort people by skill, experience and interests.
C: How you compensate can be an important factor in whether freelancers want to work with you as well as how large your talent network is. Consider offering a financial incentive to community members who introduce new talent to the community.
E: How employees work is just as important as how much they work. Every agency measures billable hours, but not many measure activity in a given day. One day a month ask a select number of people at your agency to mark down all their activity in a day (email, text, phone, meetings, etc) and who they interacted with (clients, friends, freelancers, coworkers, etc). This can show you the best way people communicate as well as any imbalance in how your employees work.
The WELANCE system is the way we swarm and manage curated teams to tackle creative projects for clients. By replacing just a few of the things people lose when they leave the corporate world creates motivation, productivity and ultimately brilliant solutions.
Written by: Jeff Donaldson
jeff at atomic20 dot com
*Source: Intuit 2020 Forecast Study