Agencies buy into freelance economy with NoSweat service
by Herman Manson (@marklives) South African ad agencies have been increasingly buying into the freelance economy as more talent head out on their own in pursuit of different lifestyles or better work/life balance. At the same time, agencies have been feeling the squeeze as the economy struggles with minimal growth and political uncertainty. These factors created space for freelance employment agency, NoSweat.work, to launch its web-based service connecting agencies with creative freelancers in September 2015.
The admin-side struggle
Sebastian van’t Hoff, NoSweat.work co-founder and client and freelance liaison, used to be a freelancer himself and he says, like most freelancers, he struggled with the admin side of working for multiple clients. Couldn’t somebody else do the books and chase the money? On the agency side, dealing with freelancers creates a lot of admin for the HR department — how might this be minimised? NoSweat.work thus offers a single point of contact and one registered vendor to deal with.
Van’t Hoff connected with business architect, Wilfred Greyling, and, over the course of two years, the duo mapped out a business process that would make life easier for both client and freelancer. They also spent much time aligning their internal processes with local labour legislation.
Today, NoSweat.work has 2200 creative freelancers on its books and sends out between 3–400 job requests a month. Clients include DDB South Africa, Ogilvy & Mather Africa, Publicis Machine, McCann Worldgroup, Base2, Wunderman, M&C Saatchi Abel, Havas Worldwide and a host of other brand-name agencies.
How it works
Freelancers register on the NoSweat.work site; they don’t upload CVs but instead connect their LinkedIn and Behance profiles. Agencies log jobs with details on service, time and location required, as well as the budget available. NoSweat.work matches the job to freelancer skill sets and the agency receives a list of possible candidates who are currently available and willing to work within the specified budget. The preferred candidate is then selected.
Turnaround times may be as quick as 30–40 minutes. Fifteen percent is added on top of the freelancers’ fees, which the agency has to pay. NoSweat.work handles all the paperwork including purchase orders, time sheets, invoicing and collecting fees, as well as taxes such as PAYE.
According to Van’t Hoff, clients tend to scan profiles and portfolios online and may make a decision in as little as six seconds. Seeing some big-name agencies listed under work experience often clinches the deal.
Upgrade on the way
The service is managing its growth as a lot of the internal admin function still needs to be automated. A newly upgraded website is also on its way, which will address the issues freelancers and clients have identified over the course of the year.
The market for NoSweat.work’s service will continue to grow, believes Van’t Hoff, as clients and talent realise they are being released from a substantial administrative burden and creating a win-win.
Herman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of MarkLives.com. He was the founding editor of media.toolbox (1998–2006) and Mobile.Works, and the co-founder of Brand magazine. He has served on the editorial boards of The Journal for Convergence, as well as of Fast Company South Africa. Winner of the 2011 Vodacom Social Media Journalist of the Year award, he was also a finalist twice in the Highway Africa Award for the Innovative Use of New Media in Africa (2003 and 2004). Over his 20-year-plus career, Herman has contributed to numerous journals and websites in South Africa and abroad, including the Mail & Guardian, .net, Intelligence, AdVantage, Men’s Health, Computer World and African Communications. He has consulted on web architecture to several financial institutions.