A new Brooklyn facility for freelancers—launched in collaboration with the Freelancers Union and New York City—could prove inspiration for a field that’s growing in prominence but comes with a lot of extra complications.
With freelance work on the rise, workers need new tactics to tackle a career path that’s made up of a bunch of small gigs here and there.
A collaboration between the Freelancers Union and New York City might just prove the strategy to watch. Last year, the group, which has elements of a traditional labor union while offering many of the benefits of an association, announced plans to launch the Freelancers Hub, a freely available workspace and educational facility for gig economy workers, with the help of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, as well as the Independent Filmmaker Project. The Brooklyn-based facility has much in common with traditional coworking facilities like WeWork (members can cowork for free at the facility four times per month), but aims specifically to serve the local freelancer audience, which is sizable in the area.
“[It] marks the first concerted effort by a city to invest in providing direct training and freelancers,” Freelancers Union Executive Director Caitlin Pearce wrote in a blog post. “We hope it will serve as a model to replicate across the country.”
Since it was first launched in August, the 20,000-square-foot facility has attracted a large amount of interest, with 4,000 freelancers signing up as members. The space has drawn members who see the offering as a way to better learn how to manage what can often be a challenging juggle—one that requires not only doing the work, but also managing finances and workflow, and doing their own marketing.
“They don’t really prepare you for a career,” one member, Nicholas Mc Millian, told NPR of freelance life. “They don’t really say, ‘All right, this is how you go out there and make money and support yourself.’”
While educational offerings at the space—all taught by freelancers, of course—are key, so too are the interactions that the Freelancers Hub is designed to create, Pearce told the public radio network.
“Because the concept is really about finding the expertise and the resources that exist within the community already and really tapping into it and bringing it into one central place,” she added.
It’s a concept that the organization hopes to take national over time.