Kate Kendall, founder of CloudPeeps, shares her thoughts on the freelancing boom, workplace automation, and why creativity is about to have its renaissance.
A UK native, Kate Kendall moved to Australia at the age of ten and now calls San Francisco home. “I kind of grew up on planes, in a way,” she jokes. Once she touched down in San Francisco, everything clicked for her.
“As I was working the 9-5, I realized it wasn’t exactly the right kind of environment for me to thrive. I often think that’s why I became an entrepreneur, almost to escape that.”
As a consultant to tech startups, Kate relished the chance to peek behind the curtain of San Francisco’s tech scene. Yet she was disappointed to discover there wasn’t more of a space online to connect with potential employers. When she made the transition to entrepreneur (during her time running The Fetch), Kate struggled to find reliable and qualified freelancers, finding herself on the other side of the equation. She decided to hire a virtual assistant and everything changed. She was blown away how little she missed out on by working with someone remotely. From here, she had the idea to take the concept of outsourcing and rework it.
In 2014, Kate founded CloudPeeps. A marketplace and community for freelancers to connect with potential employers, it offers independents the resources required to turn freelancing into a sustainable career. CloudPeeps has chosen to differentiate itself by hand-picking their top 1000 “peeps” from a pool of thousands of applicants, leading to a curated community of the best freelancers and employers from around the world.
Redefining worker classification
Kate knows a thing or two about freelancing. Having worked as an entrepreneur, a consultant, and an employer, Kate has seen all sides of the movement. I asked her why she thinks freelancing has been gaining momentum.
“I think the freelance economy has absolutely changed and exploded, even in the past two and a half years working on CloudPeeps. Originally, people were still concerned about things like being remote…but so much has changed now in terms of worker classification. I almost feel like the way that we see jobs has changed, that it’s no longer ‘you’re full-time, you’re part-time, you’re contract.’ All of these things are getting more based on the work to be done.”
Companies are starting to think critically about what kind of an employee they need. They’re discovering that sometimes, contract roles or freelancers are a better fit than a full-time, in-house employee. Companies waking up to this new way of hiring directly impacts the freelancing movement. Hiring freelancers or contractors can be a win/win. It means efficiency for the corporation and more happiness and productivity for their “employees.” The line between full-time and freelancer used to be black and white; now, it’s more of a grey area. And to Kate, that’s a great thing. Kate also shared how millennials hitting the workforce has shifted us away from full-time, long-term employment.
“People think that having a full-time job gives us great security. But as we’ve seen through 2008 with the recession and the change with different skillsets, it’s only perceived security. There’s no guarantee that you’ll have that job 3, 12, 25 years from now. And I think that’s a lot of what millennials started to see as they graduated from college, that the concept of the 25 year ‘golden handcuff’ job…doesn’t really exist anymore. The world changes so fast. And I think when you look back you think I’m not necessarily going to create my life around this one job, this one career.”
Automation and its effect on the individual
I asked Kate what trends she’s seeing which stand to affect the future of work. Living in the Bay Area, she has conversations with a wide variety of tech professionals. In her mind, automation ranks as one of the most popular topics of conversation. She references Uber and Lyft’s rush towards building self-driving cars as a specific example. “It’ll be like the Jetsons,” Kate jokes. “We’ll be walking down the street and there will be cars with no one in them.” As we get more comfortable with automation, certain jobs will become obsolete. Some find this a scary prospect. Kate remains optimistic.
“There’s been a Y Combinator test in Oakland about universal income about what happens when we don’t need to work anymore. Should we have universal income because some people won’t have skills or relevant jobs anymore? I kind of don’t believe that. I think everyone has some sort of skill that they can develop or a talent that they offer…I think that we’ll start to be more creative.”
Automation will help us save time and energy on the easy-to-program menial tasks in our lives. It will also encourage us to specialize in more creative endeavors. Creative thinking is a part of the human condition we won’t be able to automate anytime soon. And that’s wonderful news for the creatives out there.
Startups as catalysts for creativity
Automation seems poised to kickstart this movement towards creative thinking. But there’s another factor propelling us towards a creative future: the rise of startups.
“I think that there’s going to be more and more capacity for people that have creativity or unique knowledge. I think startups are helping with that. There has been a lot of growth and ‘disruption’ in the on-demand space, with marketplaces trying to make everything more efficient. I think that breeds even more reason to be entrepreneurial and more creative in the future.”
As a marketplace startup, this resonates with the ShareDesk team. Our marketplace connects people with the on-demand spaces that will jumpstart their productivity. We help innovators and free thinkers find collaborators, inspiration, and a community. Optix helps automate the menial tasks that eat up the a coworking space managers’ time. This lets them get back to the important community cultivation. That’s what transforms coworking spaces from offices into magical working environments. It takes an entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, collaboration, and fostering intentional communities. Automating the office operations draws the focus back to the people and harnessing their collective potential.
The world is experimenting in a big way with automation. We’re disrupting traditional office structures and blurring the lines between full-time and freelance. Technological advances force us to define the differences in capability between humans and machines. Once we automate certain systems, how will that affect the human beings of the workforce? There’s never been a more exciting time in recent history to dream about the future of work.
To listen to our extended raw interview with Kate Kendall, visit ShareDesk’s Soundcloud.
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 travelers, 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.