Elance Blog

The (r)evolution of Work: How NextSpace, Elance & Freelance Camp Are Creating the Infrastructure for the New Economy

"Jeremy Neuner, co-founder and CEO of NextSpace Coworking + Innovation, Inc, likes to use this provocative turn of phrase: "In the future knowledge economy, everyone will be a freelancer."  In this post, he talks about how NextSpace, Elance, and Freelance Camp are driving this (r)evolution of work.

In September 2009, a report by the Pew Research Center confirmed what many of you reading this post already know: Self-employed adults, including freelancers, are significantly more satisfied with their jobs than other workers. The report, called “Take This Job and Love It,” also confirmed another fact that many of us are all too familiar with: Freelancers have less job security and feel more financial stress than people who hold more traditional jobs.

More than one in ten Americans are self-employed. The slow economic recovery, advances in technology, and a desire for a better work-life balance are causing more Americans to opt for self-employment every day. So as this sector of the workforce continues to grow, how do we get more of the good stuff in the Pew report (job satisfaction) and less of the bad stuff (financial stress)?

Our good friends at Elance are solving an important piece of that puzzle. Freelancers are always looking to do two things: find new clients and get paid by existing clients. By creating the largest online marketplace for freelance talent, Elance vastly increases the chances that a freelancer will have a steady flow of new work. And by managing and delivering that work through Elance's platform, freelancers are guaranteed to get paid by their clients. With Elance, they can spend more time doing what they love (providing great services to their clients) and less time hustling for their next gig or chasing payments. Voila! More job satisfaction, less financial stress.

At NextSpace, we’re tackling this challenge from a different, but complementary, perspective. NextSpace is the workplace for the new economy. We have nearly 200 members who work from our 11,000 square foot coworking space in downtown Santa Cruz, CA. Our members come from a wide range of industries (software, mobile apps, web solutions, graphic design and financial services, to name a few) and work at different points along the freelance and self-employed spectrum (newbies, seasoned pros, solopreneurs, and start-ups).

Coworking spaces like NextSpace solve two problems. First, they provide a professional, collaborative place to work, as opposed to the distraction and isolation of working from home or from a coffee shop. Second, they provide membership in a community of creative professionals. NextSpace members bounce ideas off each other, offer advice, refer work to each other, team up together to tackle larger projects, and even start new companies together. As important, the NextSpace community provides a social outlet for our members. When you’re a freelancer, you miss out on the social aspects of work: happy hours, office parties, intra-office love affairs, and shooting the breeze around the coffee pot. Building social capital is a big part of being successful, and coworking spaces provide an opportunity to build both social and professional capital. Again, voila! More job satisfaction, less financial stress.

We’re proud of our early success with NextSpace. California State Assembly member Bill Monning just named NextSpace the California Small Business of the Year. I’ll be a fellow at the Aspen Institute this year, working with business leaders from Fortune 100 companies on the changing nature of work. Now, we’re embarking on a new initiative by partnering with our friends at Shane & Peter, Inc. to launch the global brand for Freelance Camp. Freelance Camp is a series of one-day conferences—built on the BarCamp.org model and generously sponsored by Elance—on how to be a better freelancer. The aim is to give freelancers the tools they need to be better business people while also brushing up on their areas of expertise. Put another way, Freelance Camp is a chance for freelancers to learn how to create (you guessed it!) more job satisfaction and less financial stress.

NextSpace is launching its newest coworking space in San Francisco by hosting Freelance Camp PRO in San Francisco on June 5th. We hope some of you will join us, so click here for the details. Want to organize your own Freelance Camp? Click here to learn how.

I’ll close with a provocative statement: In the future knowledge economy, everyone will be a freelancer. Everyone will be an entrepreneur. So we must re-imagine and re-engineer the physical, social, and policy infrastructure that will be needed to support this seismic shift in our workforce. NextSpace, Elance, and Freelance Camp are all part of this (r)evolution of Work. Tell us what you’re doing to be part of the (r)evolution.

About the Author:
Jeremy Neuner is the co-founder and CEO of NextSpace Coworking + Innovation, Inc. NextSpace is the workplace for the new economy with locations in downtown Santa Cruz, CA, and downtown San Francisco, CA. Learn more at www.NextSpace.us.


NextSpace is a brilliant idea, and I have to commend the creative thought behind it. My only criticism is that it doesn't do what most freelancing does to help solve another of our pressing global problems: the energy and environmental crisis. The millions of people who are freelancing from home right now are making a significant contribution toward their children's and grandchildren's futures by avoiding the daily commute. Any thoughts on what NextSpace could do to help in this area?

Valerie Bock, J.D,
Freelance Writer

I am very much a part of this new trend and am working it out of necessity. I was an unemployed 50+ I realized the knowledge and talents I have need to be put to use in a different format. The camp we started over a year ago consists of other older, very talented people that have come together to create a vision. I will admit it has been slow, but is evolving. One aspect of this new shift in the way people do business will be the fact that we don't have to be employed for the benefits. Many people hold on to jobs that they are not happy with merely for health insurance and others are unisured due to un or under employment. With the paridym shift in looking at our nations health care system differently allows people the freedom to work the way we want to when and where they want. It is up to the individual as to the income level they want to make. Thanks to a younger generation that we first thought was lazy and irresponsible, we now see people who are saying I don't want to be confined or defined by predetermined boxes that stiffel me or limit my creativity. The fact that this generation is so electronically interactive with people they don't know, yet collaborative with makes a huge difference on the way that people interact in business as well.

NextSpace will act as a bridge for larger employers to cross when they consider outsourcing business talent - but are not quite confident in the home office / virtual company model. Another important and much needed piece of the freelancer puzzle.