To support the growing number of independent consultants and professional freelancers, talent on-demand platform Outsized launches its Community. The Community caters exclusively to independent talent, allowing them to connect and support each other, as well as provide several unique features, such as instant access to curated and personalised project opportunities, peer-to-peer learning in the form of mentorship and live webinars, skill-based peer focus groups, and access to a database of upskilling resources.
In a recent survey conducted by Outsized, the team found that no matter where an independent consultant is located or the number of years of experience, there are common challenges that every single member of the community faces.
These include a feeling of isolation due to the lack of support networks, limited access to any form of organised support infrastructure or relevant knowledge resources, as well as a sense of disconnect from their peer community. While networking platforms like LinkedIn already exist, there is too much noise and clutter to wade through, and independent consultants often get lost in the crowd. To ensure that these challenges do not become career roadblocks and that independent consultants and professional freelancers can thrive, Outsized has decided to curate a one-stop solution where members can connect, upskill, share knowledge, crowd solve problems and win more work.
Managing Director and co-founder of Outsized, Anurag Bhalla, said, “Growth markets like SE Asia are seeing a significant acceleration in both organisations seeking more agility in their talent models in order to be effective in an increasingly uncertain world and professionals taking control over their own careers by becoming independent. From all the insights we have gathered, it seems clear that an individual’s identity is no longer connected to an organisation but to their skill, knowledge, or area of expertise. However, due to the relative immaturity of the market, there is a lack of infrastructure to ensure things work fairly for both sides. Our commitment at Outsized is to create a sustainable environment, and a big part of this is ensuring that independent talent feel empowered, secure, and protected. Working as an individual can feel quite overwhelming, and our hope is that the community solves this and allows people to thrive in this new era of work.”
The freelance revolution and the future of the workforce
While independent consulting is not a new concept, its fast expansion, especially in growth markets, is. Clients are focused on building a mixed workforce to achieve organisational agility, quick execution and flexible cost bases. Several companies expect 15-30% of their future staff to be project-specific hired hands rather than full-time employees. On the flip side, more individuals are moving from permanent employment to independent consulting. Becoming an independent consultant is the start of a new career phase for these skilled workers. It can deliver more flexible hours, a wider variety of work, the chance to gain richer experience, earn more money, and gain greater control of their own destiny.
While the pandemic accelerated this trend, it was already growing exponentially across regions. According to the Ministry of Manpower reports, the gig economy has drawn many individuals to opt for flexible job opportunities even before the pandemic, with nearly 9% of the Singaporean workforce, or 211,000 residents, choosing to take up freelance work in 2019 – an increase from the 200,000 in 2016. Of those, more than 80% did freelance work as their primary job. In 2020, the percentage of self-employed individuals rose to 14.7% of the resident workforce.
In growth markets, low skill – low-value roles were considered to be the largest segment of the ‘gig economy. That has now seen a significant shift where the ‘gig workers’ have evolved into highly skilled and experienced independent experts and specialists who are revolutionising how businesses acquire essential skills. This professional segment of high-skill, high-value talent is the fastest growing, and businesses are adapting to this change in talent mindset.
Addressing the needs of independent consultants through a curated community platform
Independent consultants and professional freelancers don’t have access to support networks and company resources. Therefore, access to mentors, specialists, peers, and other resources are invaluable to them. The Outsized community offers a platform that addresses these critical areas and provides exclusive access to job opportunities tailored to each member’s location and occupation.
In addition to this, it allows its members to network with peers, receive input from specialists, and have the opportunity to find collaborators for active projects. The community platform also allows members to have access to tips, tools, and templates to upskill themselves.
One of the community’s offerings is the focus groups feature, where members can expect mentoring and input from fellow community members with similar skill sets.
With access to webinars and resources relevant to their occupation and insights from industry-related specialists and employers – this community provides an exclusive and safe space to connect, advise, and ask for help.
“In our Community, we help freelancers build their careers with the support of other skilled independents. It’s a place to connect and network with peers, attend digital events with experts and clients, and get practical help from people who have been there and done it,” explains Niclas Thelander, CEO and founder of Outsized.
Build a Community with Outsized
Besides offering the community platform, Outsized also organises in-person events and workshops to engage the independent talent community. Recently, the Singapore team ran a co-creation workshop where 14 members of the community attended and joined in a session of networking and discussion on the possible direction of the Singaporean freelancing community.
In the future, Outsized will provide freelancers with further access to resources and benefits to support their freelancing journey. This includes access to products and services designed to cater to the specific needs freelancers have in terms of financial protection, health and wellness, as well as admin tools.