Anne Kreamer, author and contributor to publications such as the HBS and Fast Company.
Anne’s not new to the coworking scene. She wrote an article on the rise of coworking spaces for the Harvard Business Review in 2012 after trying coworking herself for the first time. The article took off and helped raise awareness on the benefits of coworking spaces; “that they offer collaborative networks, built-in resources, and dynamic ecosystems, foster innovation and can even make starting a business simpler”.
Having a diverse background herself, one can understand why Anne believes it’s beneficial to immerse yourself in a diverse environment such as a coworking space. From being a part of the team that distributed and co-produced Sesame Street to being the Worldwide Creative Director for Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite to becoming an columnist and author, Anne believes that making intelligent career moves is beneficial for the long-term trajectory of your career; she even wrote a book about it, Risk/Reward: Why Intelligent Leaps and Daring Choices Are the Best Career Moves You Can Make.
“Keep iterating until you find what works. If all you’ve ever done is one thing, or if you’re young and you don’t know all the world has to offer, being with a variety of people in an environment such as a coworking space can open the door for you to think about your opportunities in a very different way.”
The beginning of the freelancer movement
We asked Anne about how she views the evolution to how we got to where we are today and she explained that it started with the mentality shift of corporations, the shift to generating shareholder value. This meant companies started firing people, streamlining organizations and reducing benefits.“Companies started to view employees as fungible, almost like capital investments,” she said.
The Great Depression as well as the evolution of technology following this led to increased insecurity and instability in the workforce. “Industries no longer valued employees and with the evolution of technology, industries were being created and eroded overnight,” Anne explained. She believes that out of this turmoil came a allegiance of unemployed, part-time and contract employees that had to find a way to work in a conducive environment, many of which went on to become self employed and create their own businesses, the start of the freelancer movement.
Risk-taking in today’s fluid and unambiguous working world
For both this group of self employed americans, as well those who aren’t, Anne wanted to understand what were the characteristics that helped people get ahead in today’s working world. She conducted two national surveys, interviewing over 3,000 professionals and found that one’s tolerance for risk taking was the thing that seems to separate and identify people’s different working profiles. She went on to then write about this in her book, Risk/Reward, advocating for everyone to make a practice of taking small risks throughout the course of their life.
“If you’re always thinking about doing something and never take even a modest risk or experimentation in that new area, you’ll never pull the trigger to try the new endeavor.”
Earlier this year, the US Department of Labor released national survey results that indicated that even baby boomers are now changing their jobs every five. Anne commented that “the idea that you might be in a job for ten years is 20th century thinking”.
She describes four distinct risk-taking profiles, the pioneers, thinkers, defenders and drifters. The pioneers, the group who took the most risk, made up about 10% of the population. Anne said that they made 17% more money than everybody else, quantifiably demonstrating the fact that the more you experiment along the way with finding your “ideal working world”, the more successful you can become.
Anne cited a study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research that stated that young people who experiment in their jobs, being driven from one to the next by meaning, often made made more money in their 30s and 40s than those people who stayed in a single career trajectory. She talked about how people should find their “pay raises” through movement versus staying with the same company, and how coworking spaces can help enable this.
“I think coworking spaces enable a kind of mind expansion, a kind of movement. They put you in original and fresh situations on a daily basis. You don’t really know who is going to be in your cohort of workers on any given day or what your needs and questions might be.”
The freelancers’ future of work
We we asked Anne to share her predictions about the future of work and what she believes is most important for freelancers to focus on.
Keep your network and contacts thriving
As a freelancer herself, Anne believes that coworking spaces can help freelancers to keep their network and contacts thriving, something she thinks is vital. In her new book she talks about how people find their next jobs or projects not through people that they work with in their own industry, but through a loose association to people you remain in regular contact with. “The broader you can make that association the more likely you are to find your next gig,” Anne explained.
Manage your income fluctuations
Self management of your own finances, or “becoming your own CFO” as Anne described it, is the “single most important thing that everyone should do right now,” Anne advises. With the belief that no one if going to retire, she talked about how starting a savings program and putting aside money regardless of how little are making is extremely important. “In the future there will be no social security because no one is going to be putting it in, as we are all going to be freelancers,” Anne describes.
Support your freelancer peers
Anne shared her belief that now is the time for freelancers to share learnings and ban together to advocate for better healthcare and saving plans. “We need to unionize in different ways and begin to shout for our rights”, Anne says. Now is a time of opportunity for freelancers.
About the ShareDesk Blog Series ‘The Future of Work With…’
‘The Future of Work With…’ is a blog series profiling members of the ShareDesk community. We are speaking with our diverse network of entrepreneurs, business travellers, industry thought leaders, freelancers, and flexible workplace operators, and sharing their stories and experiences on how they dream up a more flexible future for work.
Are you part of the ShareDesk community and have an interesting story to share? Contact us.