WS14: Ljubljana – 29 May 2015

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Where: Poligon Kreativni Centre
When: 29.05.2015
Participants: 18
Co-organised together with: Gaja Mežnarić Osole

This one-day workshop took place amongst designers, artists and copywriters based at (or rotating around) the co-working space Poligon in Ljubljana. It was preceded by an evening event during which the future of work in Europe was discussed.

Here some glimpses of the morning session that followed.

Key questions of the day

How do we get paid for what we love doing? How to negotiate the potential between agency and freelance work?

Can freelancers join together in cooperatives or other collectives to share skills and resources? Could such co-operative become a business model where money and relations are transparently negotiated among the members? Where money is split evenly between people, no matter who brings in what?

Ideas and proposals

What about establishing an organisation/union that everyone pays into (for example 5€/month) and if a client does not pay, this organisation takes them to court.
But start the community first and ask for money for the organisation later. People are rather unwilling to pay into a union-like system. Could people pay a sliding-scale fee? Or pay a percentage of the money they get for a project? When nothing comes in even a system like this becomes a burden.

Create a peer-to-peer ecosystems of exchanges and support: generating our own movement of work, support, economies between each other. Create new ways to account for exchange: non-monetary currencies (time, skills, knowledge?). Inviting specialised communities for the time bank, look for example at the Leeds Creative Timebank. Maybe time banks or other systems of currency could be applied in co-working spaces. It is important how these systems are presented and made attractive. Create microeconomic systems within and between specific collectives.

Establishing a system for co-working between designers: the person who brings in the projects gets 55% and others the rest.

We need to set up a standard price list.

We need to invite and collaborate more with people from economics and managers to help designers. Can we find illuminated and progressive ones?

Raising awareness about the value of our work.Raising awareness of the problematics outside our circles is crucial as well.

Creating a group discussion panel in Poligon do discuss such topics: pricing, quality … Activating members of Poligon to self-organise.

Creating a space where freelancers could open-up and talk about their struggles: group therapy for freelancers.

Acting out what we would like to see/live/do and finding inspiring examples that already exist, so we can be in conversation with them.

Take 1st steps, be unprecious and make action plans from there. Being patient and persistent, starting small.

There is much potential is “collecting” labour power: we don’t have money but we have the skills and can put our time together.

Create a hybrid between NGO and a business, a kind of flexible entity in the middle. 

Creating a software-platform to connect freelancers across different countries.

Issues raised

Freelancers are responsible to deliver good work. They need to offer exceptional results to clients. When they don’t it is more clear that clients pay little or are unsatisfied. But it is still important to value the work/work-time itself.

Clients often pick designers because they know their work/their name rather than looking for a specific skill set. It’s important to build up a loyal client base.

Everything gets harder when you are parent: you need to keep a work and life balance. When you are with your child you cannot work. Can we adopt a work ethics that is not putting pressure on people who cannot be hyper flexible and do a lot of overwork. Just stop working on the week-ends, in the evenings or when you are sick to create a more level playing field. If I work late hours it means you need to work late hours.

Problem: having a fix price on the project means that even if the hours go up, you are paid the same amount.

We are afraid of loosing a job even when it is shit. Can we not take up shit jobs and get more space for the ones we desire?

What about putting “hours of education” for the client into the final price? Hours during which you pass on your knowledge about trends, technological developments, strategies, etc.

How to get over the selfishness of freelancers? To constantly think about the WE and not only the I. My situation is connected to the situation of others. What I experience is also experienced by others.

Sentence of the day

Let’s become social and economic hackers.