Ever heard of the gig economy? Call it freelancer, independent consultant or expert and no matter if you look at our design industry or the consultant industry, wherever professional services are needed there is a growing trend towards independent work. More and more people are taking the leap to become a one-man company and this trend will be fueled even more so by the current crisis.
While there is a growing supply of independent work the need for modern marketplaces that facilitate the collaboration between organizations and freelancers is increasing. This is where COMATCH comes in, founded in 2015 in Berlin it has quickly become the leading online marketplace for independent consultants and industry experts in Europe. A brand that is both tech-driven but retains a strong personal touch with collaboration at its heart.
5 months ago we embarked on a journey to the depths of this often called new economy and the essence of collaboration by kicking-off a rebranding project with the COMATCH team. Since then we haven’t simply evolved an identity but we’ve experienced a great collaboration and learned a lot about what the future holds in terms of independent careers, so let’s dive into a few things we’ve learned about the future of collaboration.
First off it’s interesting to look at the drivers of the gig economy. What is it that actually motivates talents to work independently?Why do more and more companies choose to hire individual experts? What is the cultural change that is fueling the transition of our work economy? To get a better insight we caught up with Christoph Hardt, CEO of COMATCH, to hear what he has to say:
Two main drivers of the gig economy
“Two things: the desire of well-educated talents to work on their own terms and the client’s need for very specific, project bound expertise. One of the reasons why marketplaces like COMATCH have become so popular is that companies face problems that are much more complex than they used to be and which they solve project-based. Ten or 15 years ago, if you had an issue within the controlling department, you could solve it in the controlling department, and if there was a marketing issue, the marketing team could solve it, maybe working with a consulting firm if necessary. But now, everything has an IT or a digital component or requires a very specialized, almost “nerdy” knowledge — and it has to go fast. In that world, a very flexible way of collaboration becomes much more important, clients need to be able to quickly create cross-disciplinary teams. Companies turn to outside experts who can help fill in the gaps that link, for example, marketing with IT. Of course, it doesn’t make sense to hire an expert permanently if you only need their support for a 6-month project. At the same time, more and more people chose to go independent and between those poles, the Gig Economy can grow.”
Because it’s more than a job
“In many conversations with our consultants and a survey we learned they want to be in the driver’s seat of their career and life. They want to decide on what project topics they work, for which clients they work, when and how much they work and for which price. It is very important to note that for them, it is a situation they actively chose as it gives them advantages compared to their life as employees: A huge majority quit their job to pursue a career as an independent, they make more money, have more flexibility and responsibility — 9 out of 10 say they are at least as happy as before or even happier. Some of our consultants want to have more time for their family, some start their own business aside, some do charity work, some work nonstop on their favorite topic. In comparison to other gig economy businesses, the consultants in our network earn more money, have more freedom and choose the projects they work on. Following the maxim: it is more than just a job!”
Creating an identity around collaboration
How do you visualize a brand with collaboration at its heart? Quite simply by extending the existing concept of the handshake into different shapes that are interacting with each other to create an intersection, a collaborative space. The intersection “where the magic happens” is always highlighted in the COMATCH typical blue or the new COMATCH green for a personal touch and can also be used as an element by itself – the iconic drop.
These graphic elements form the foundation of the whole graphic language and are used as standalone elements to give space to the messages based around the narrative that collaboration is fulfilling with the right people on your side. The graphic elements are also used in combination with photography to give space for the consultants and create a personal feeling.
Many good reasons for companies to collaborate with independent experts
“More flexibility, more decision power over the perfect fit and better teamwork. As it is much more about getting ‘spiky’ expertise into the client organization at the right points, clients don’t want to be overburdened — they want to be able to move much more quickly. They can handpick their missing expert and have much more control over the backgrounds ofthe people working on their projects.
If a client asks a consultancy for help with a specific type of project, for example, strategy in consumer goods, they might end up working with people who are completely new to the topic even if the firm itself has a focus there. But if they assemble their own team from networks of independents, then they can make 100% sure they find people who’ve done it five or six times at least, who love nothing more than doing strategy projects and speak Russian and Mandarin on top. They can create blended teams, where you have external subject matter experts augmenting your own internal resources. In such a blended team it’s much easier to transfer knowledge and skills from the independent consultant to the full-time employees.
One important reason is that you deal with individuals, not another company bringing its own working culture. Independent experts are not used to working with each other, and they’re not going to have their own shared working habits. You have to actively work to bring those people into your own corporate culture, the strong exchange will increase the chances of a project’s success. I really see this as an opportunity. Trust will not be established by big brand names like McKinsey or Accenture, but by the CVs and the personality of the single consultant.”
A glimpse into the future of collaboration
“In the past, if you were a client who wanted to bring in independent consultants, you were faced with a lot of question marks: You didn’t know how to find them, you didn’t know what they charged, and you didn’t know who’s good and who wasn’t. We help clients with those questions, by giving them a clearer view of a market that naturally lacks transparency. We see ourselves as disrupting the process of how consultants are identified and how teams are constructed, not the day-to-day operations of a project. Our focus is on transforming the ability of clients to access external talent: through tech-enabled, fast selection within a vetted worldwide talent pool, but always accompanied by personal contact, cause after all consulting is people business.
Teams can be assembled very fast, in a few hours with the best talent available in-house and externally, and they will dissolve as soon as a project has been successfully finished. Remote work will be more common and team roles will be solely based on expertise, not age or title. Knowledge mapping of their own staff will be standard for every company, so employees will shift from project to project instead of staying in one department all their career and working in silos will be regarded as old-fashioned.”
Learn and see more about COMATCH and the outcomes of our collaboration in the coming weeks.