European Freelancers Week 2020


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Hi folks! Welcome to a very special episode of the Coworking Values Podcast. And as always, thanks for tuning in with us. We have two special guests this time. 

We have the two lovely ladies, the brains of the European Coworking Assembly. We have Jeannine Van Der Linden and Jacqueline Mayer. We are going to talk about the incoming European Freelancers Week happening from the 16th to the 25th of October. 

How did the European Freelancers Week start?

Sure, the European Freelancer’s Week has started. Ultimately, it started with three people: Joel Dullroy, Francesca Pesce, Mattia Raos, right. And the three of them were all involved with freelancers organizations in their respective countries: Germany, Italy and Croatia. 

And they decided, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a week in which the attention of all of Europe is focused on the importance of the role of freelancers in the economy in Europe. And that’s really how it started. 

As the European Coworking Assembly, we have been a supporting partner from the very first year all the way up until last year. And last year, we took over the event and started to organize the event. Prior to that, it was organized by EFIP which is the organization of European Independent professionals. So, that is ultimately how the EFWeek started.

What is going to be different this year?

The idea is still the opportunity for coworking spaces to connect with freelancers and other industry players.

We might not be going into the space, some coworking spaces will obviously be able to invite people to come to actual events where it’s permitted as possible and social distancing is still possible. But from a digital perspective, coworking spaces can still host the event. 

And the process will be very similar as previous years we, coworking spaces can go to the EFWeek freelancers website and register the event and hosted from there, and we’ve got a wonderful resource lady called Elina, who’s hosting her own events in Belgium who can also assist with arranging some of the events. 

So I would invite you to contact her through the website. And so yes, that’s basically how it will be working and go to our website. Have a look and get in contact, so we can help you. 

There will also be a Friday call which is happening, where lots of information is shared and support is given to coworking spaces who would like to take part because it might feel a little bit daunting, these are not massive produced events. 


European Freelancers Week


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Bernie J Mitchel  0:04  

Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to this week’s very exciting episode of the Coworking Values Podcast the podcast of the European Coworking Assembly. So Zeljko, I missed you in the last few episodes where have you been man?


Zeljko Crnjaković  0:17  

Oh, I’ve been around. I don’t want to say I’ve been too busy for the podcast because I love podcasting or I don’t want to say that I don’t like being here and that’s why I haven’t been around. But you know, so I’ve just been around. Was that good enough? 


Bernie J Mitchel  0:34  

That was. 


Zeljko Crnjaković  0:36  

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Bernie J Mitchel  1:13  

And today in our studio, we have the brains of the European Coworking Assembly, which is Jax and Jeannine. I’m so nervous here. This is the first time we’ve had them all here. So, Jax, do you want to go first?


Jacqueline Mayer  1:26  

Yes, sure. I’m Jacqueline. I’m probably one of the newest additions to the team, working on EFWeek, specifically. Exciting times for events at the moment. I’m traditionally South African and I love being part of the team.


Bernie J Mitchel  1:42  

Jax is very humble though. She’s been the main reason that stuff gets on the website in a in a consistent fashion over the last six months. So, I think you’re downplaying your role. And Zeljko, do you know who Jeannine is?


Zeljko Crnjaković  1:55  

I’ve heard about Jeannine. Let me just think about it. It’s kind of the big girl from the UK? The really tall one? Oh, you mean the short sweet Netherland girl?


Bernie J Mitchel  2:26  

So who are you Jeannine?


Jeannine Van der Linden  2:28  

Hi, I’m Jeannine Van der Linden. I am involved with the European Coworking Assembly and I have a network of coworking spaces called DeKamer in the Netherlands. I am not Netherlandic, actually, I’m American. 


Bernie J Mitchel  2:45  

This podcast is all about European Freelancers Week, which is known affectionately, as the short code is EFWeek, and we’re going to introduce to you all the ways you can get involved. We’re going to demystify some elements of it, because as we run around over the last five years running this, we say to people; run events, they think they need to put on a Rugby World Cup, when really it’s way less hectic than that. And also we’re very aware that just the world with COVID and how we operate is a very different place to when we all started planning this at the beginning of January. So, do you want to give us a little bit of the origin story of EFWeek, which we refer to as because then this podcast will be much shorter.


Jeannine Van der Linden  3:40  

The European Freelancers Week started with three people that was Joel Dullroy, Francesca Pesche and Matija Raos. The three of them were all involved with freelancer organizations in their respective countries like Germany, Italy and Croatia. And they decided, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a week in which, the attention of all of Europe was focused on the importance and the role of freelancers in the economy in Europe? And that’s really how it started. As the European Coworking Assembly, we have been as we were a supporting partner from the very first year all the way up until last year. And last year, we took over the event and started to organize the event. Prior to that it was organized by (EFIP), which is the organization of European Independent Professionals. That is ultimately how the EFWeek started.


Zeljko Crnjaković  4:46  

So did EFWeek achieve any kind of results in the sense of like, were there many organizations, or freelancers, or coworking spaces involved in EFWeek? In recognizing it? And what did they take out of it?


Jeannine Van der Linden  5:07  

Oh, sure. I mean, EFWeek is the largest event involving freelancers, both online and offline. I mean, hands down, we are huge. There have been thousands of events with 10s of thousands of freelancers attending it, organized by hundreds of coworking spaces,  not to mention the ones in coffee shops, in houses, in restaurants and hotels. If what you mean is, have there been a lot of events? The answer is certainly yes. I’m not sure what you mean when you ask me what are the results of it. The results of it have been, we published the Freedom of Freelancers Manifesto, which was taken to the EU and also to various EU governments to demonstrate the impact of freelancers on the European economy. We’re relaunching the manifesto this year for the same reason, because as we once again, I mean, at that time we were dealing with the tail end of the recession. Now we’re going into the COVID-19 crisis. 

The difference between now and then which did occur to me and has occurred to me several times this year, one can argue whether it’s enough whether it’s clear enough, but the truth is that the support that was offered by governments to various businesses within Europe, nearly all of them included freelancers of this time quite explicitly, whether what they offered was sensible or not, as a political question that everybody can talk about. But there has been very little doubt certainly here in Northern Europe, in the Netherlands, there has been no more treating of freelancers as if freelance was just another word for unemployed, which is very much the approach it was taken at the tail end of the recession. And so that certainly has been a great step forward. And it’s why we are relaunching the manifesto this year and hope to get the freelancers to sign up on mass again. And so that can be carried forward. On because we’ve certainly made a start. It’s better than it was, and now we need to show what are the next steps that need to be made?


Zeljko Crnjaković  7:28  

And this year is the, which year? How many Freelancers Week? Which edition is this?


Jeannine Van der Linden  7:36  

Okay, there’s actually some quarrel about that. But we have settled on this being the fifth year.


Zeljko Crnjaković  7:45  

Fifth year… Jax, so this is kind of the fifth edition of Freelancers Weekend and you’re involved for the first time. How’s it going? 


Jacqueline Mayer  8:02  

It’s a rather interesting journey. Being a freelancer myself, it’s interesting to see how the Coworking Assembly and EFWeek is working towards creating connection for freelancers in the market. And obviously with the pandemic and the COVID situation, it’s really made the life of freelancers and many remote workers a little bit harder because we can’t necessarily go to coworking spaces. There’s a little bit of a disconnect, and the EFWeek is going to be exciting opportunity for us to connect even if it’s on a digital platform. And being South African, it’s also rather good to see what the markets are doing for freelancers, looking at the causes that we’re struggling with worldwide, but also in Europe because we are contributing factors to the economy everywhere. So yes, I think it’s going well so far. And looking forward to October.


Zeljko Crnjaković  9:05  

So basically you mentioned that this EFWeek is going to be digital based. And then I’m assuming this is because of the whole situation and the pandemic and everything. But can you tell me, how is this being done? The organization has kind of pushed all of the people that wanted to be involved, to create events for freelancers within their space, both to get people into their space, but also to get people together and involve them and stuff like that. So what’s different about this year’s and how is it going to be executed?


Jacqueline Mayer 9:53  

Well, in principle, it’s very similar because it’s still the opportunity for coworking spaces to connect with freelancers and other industry players. We might not be going into the spaces – some coworking spaces will obviously be able to invite people to come to an actual event where it’s permitted, it’s possible and social distancing is still possible. But from a digital perspective, coworking spaces can still host the event. And the process will be very similar as previous years where coworking spaces can go to the EFWeek freelancers website, register their event and host it from there. We’ve got a wonderful resource lady called Elina who’s hosting our own events in Belgium who can also assist with arranging some of the events. So I would invite you to possibly contact her through the EFWeek website. And so yes, that’s basically how it will be working and go to our website and have a look and get in contact so we can help you. There will also be a Friday Call which is happening with lots of information shared and support is given to coworking spaces who would like to take part, because it might feel a little bit daunting, these are not massive produced events. It’s basically what you’re already doing, but theming it under EFWeek.


Bernie J Mitchel  11:33  

The Friday Call is an integral part of the whole thing because the time of recording this, there’s seven weeks left and what we found over the last few years is saying to people organize events is a very flimsy, hard thing to get your head round and especially during COVID. There’s a massive time of uncertainty in the freelancer market and in the coworking and co-living market. So, by bringing people together on a support call once a week, where as a community we can work out what’s working, what’s not working, and say – Oh, look, we need some more coworking spaces in Bulgaria. Do you know anyone? Oh, yes, I’m from France, but my mate runs 19 in Bulgaria, I’ll put you in touch – is a really good way of bringing people together. And just knowing what else is going on in the freelancer and coworking and co-living communities and connecting each week will help both the event organizers and the attendees get the most out of these events. Jax, what is the best thing for people to come to you to? Because people know what not to come to me for. And they know what to come to Jeannine for. And Elina was on last week’s podcast and she is the event princess. How can people make the best use of your talent? And what should they come and ask you about?


Jacqueline Mayer  13:05  

Well, anything relating to marketing, reaching out to people, driving awareness of their events. The more we also learn about the events that they’re hosting and the issues that they’re dealing with,  the more we can amplify it on the EFWeek and ECA pages as well, because it’s a collective effort. We want to know what people are doing, what they are struggling with, what they are discussing, because it just makes everything we can share and talk about so much more interesting.


Bernie J Mitchel  13:36  

Can you tell us a bit about the blog because that is the lifeblood of what we’re doing.


Jacqueline Mayer  13:41  

Oh, yeah, absolutely. So we have a blog post or blog section on the EFWeek page, but also the ECA pages, and we’re really trying to update it and make the content as interesting and relevant to freelancers and coworking spaces as possible. We are pushing out a blog or two every week, but contributions from various spaces and players in the market would really be appreciated because it gives us more well-rounded content to share with our base.


Bernie J Mitchel  14:15  

And I’m going to add a little bit to that too, is what we’re looking for is not, and I know you’re out there listening, is not – Hi, I’m Mega Freelancer with my helicopter and Lamborghini doing the hustle – We’re looking for regular human beings who are in the freelance universe in Europe, because those stories are much, much more relatable. And things about what you’ve overcome, what you’re working on, are really important. And if you’re in a coworking space, or co-living space, and you have people in there, if you can get in touch with us, we can interview those people, and then turn it into a blog post. So it’s very easy. And it’s just in lots of projects we’ve done over the years when there are people who are, I want to say like in the field actually doing the work, they’re really, really interesting and they’re much more relatable and inspirational than Megatrons showing off how they do. Can you say a little bit about Rachel and Kofi and that story there, because that’s a great example.


Jacqueline Mayer  15:21  

Absolutely. So Rachel, and I’ve actually had a call with her this afternoon, she has recently launched her own cooking food hospitality initiative, and she’s been working with Urban MBA, where Kofi is her mentor and has helped her in the pandemic to take her passion, where she wasn’t sure where she wanted to move forward with a career and turn it into actual new business. And the energy that she has and the inspiration that she is sharing with fellow freelancers and entrepreneurs is just brilliant. So, these are the real stories that we’re looking for. People who actually come from the corporate environment and were really affected by the pandemic and actually came out way better than what they started off in the searching for themselves that they’ve done in the process. So she’s been an absolute great example of the content and the stories we are looking for. And I’m sure there’s lots more other stories that we would just love to hear.


Bernie J Mitchel  16:27  

On EFWeek website, or the website where you’re listening to this podcast, there are ways of getting in touch with us. And so you can either write something and send it in to us, or you can set up an interview and we will interview you and do the work, and then post it as that. Is there anything else I should have asked, Jax, that I haven’t highlighted from your repertoire?


Jacqueline Mayer  16:52  

No. I think it sounds good. But I think to your point around the blog and the content, we are happy to do the interviews, and again, it’s anything that we can make practical for coworking spaces or for freelancers. Advice to real stories, that would be what we’re looking for.


Bernie J Mitchel  17:11  

Thanks very much. So, Jeannine, Jax has told us about blogs and content and getting in touch and events and stuff like that. And we’ve developed this thing of getting 20 European countries to run 20 events in their countries, and having the reach around Europe be around co-living and coworking spaces in any other type of space. So, don’t feel excluded if you don’t run a coworking co-living space. But what can you say about getting the community together? I know it’s a really vague question, but go with that.


Jeannine Van der Linden  17:48  

Well, I think this should be focused on trying to get 20 countries to have 20 events each. I think it is important that we hit all of Europe. It’s important that we make clear that it’s not just the EU. It’s important that we go right across Europe to focus our attention on freelancers and their role in the economy. And also, I think it’s also important to think about the Freelancers Week – I think that freelancers, certainly my co-workers who are freelancers, don’t ever stop for a moment and reflect on the fact that they are in fact, they are the people creating the new solutions, all of the adjustment to working online. That whole path was blazed by freelancers. And I think one of the other values of the EFWeek is for the freelancers to stop and reflect on – we are everyday creating the world and now what kind of world do we want to create? Because right now we have an opportunity to do that – I think that’s an extremely important part of the EFWeek this year.


Bernie J Mitchel  19:08  

That’s great. So Jax, where can people support European Freelancers Week 2020 online?


Jacqueline Mayer  19:16  

So, we are on all prominent social media platforms. You can find us on Facebook at Freelancers Movement, or on LinkedIn on Freelancers Europe, and the same for Twitter. Please follow us and share the post so that we can just share it as wide as possible and reach as many coworking spaces and freelances during this period.


Zeljko Crnjaković  19:40  

I think that kind of circles the entire EFWeek, for this year.  So, can you just give me an overview of three main points that we need to keep in mind as far as EFWeek? When is it and how to get involved?


Jeannine Van der Linden  20:07  

EFWeek is from October 16 to 25th this year. How to get involved is go to the website and hit Contact Us, and one of us will come and find you. And I think with respect to events, I think everyone in Europe is a little hesitant, very nervous. A lot of events have been cancelled. A lot of sponsors, organizers and attendees are in a place where they’re not really seeing a lot of leadership. And I think that the EFWeek is providing that leadership. I think that we are embracing this world today as it is now and not fighting about what the world was like or what it should be like, and that’s really it for the  EFWeek. It’s going to be,  as it always is, it is going to be a week-long celebration of freelancers in their role in Europe. And as we are now and as we were then.


Zeljko Crnjaković  21:21  

I couldn’t have said it better myself. So everybody get on the EFWeek website and see what it’s all about. See how you can get involved and we’ll see you on EFWeek as far as this podcast. Bernie and I will talk to you next week. Keep in mind to visit the European Coworking Assembly website and hit subscribe on the newsletter and listen, read and support.


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