Distributed x Free Trade Europa: Freelancing and the Future of Work
21 Jun 2023
Distributed CEO Cal Adamson recently appeared on Free Trade Europa’s podcast, The New Gig, to talk about how Elastic Teams will power the future of remote work. Cal and Glen Hodgson, CEO of Free Trade Europa and host of The New Gig, discuss what it means for enterprises to embrace new methods of teamwork, key methods for attracting high-quality talent, and what private Talent Clouds have in store for growth-minded teams. We’ve gathered key insights below and the full-length interview is available here.
Distributed was created to fill a gap in the talent industry
Glen Hodgson: Let's go back to the beginning and just say a few words about why you took this personal journey, what your background is, and why you decided to form and found Distributed.
Cal Adamson: We'll take a trip down memory lane together. I started my journey into tech and digital products as an engineering student. I was studying aeronautics up in the north of Scotland when the internet really took off. I got more excited about that than I was about aircraft—and I still am really excited about aircraft but in the end I actually left my degree in its final year to join a
startup here in London.
We were building inventory management systems for e-commerce platforms and the team that was leading that product ended up selling the company. That was a great period of learning for me, especially to just be completely immersed in digital technologies and how they affect the industry.
After that I became a freelancer and digital consultant for program delivery or project delivery and I helped deliver a bunch of digital projects for many clients—almost 40 in total over a 10-year period. As I got to the end of that 10-year arc the larger clients I had were experiencing a growing number of problems with sourcing talent. They wanted to deliver software and digital
products but their traditional methods of recruitment were failing them. Everybody was struggling to get the right talent at the right time for the right cost.
I started pulling individuals and qualifying them myself, ensuring that their systems were secure since they had access into my customers’ development environments and so on. I delivered probably six or seven software projects using on-demand talent that way then I had the aha moment that these companies would all use independent talent at scale if they had a product that filled in the
gap that was the barrier to them.
Just introducing customers to talent doesn't solve the problem. You have to know the infrastructure in between. So that idea became Distributed, which we took to market in 2018. We’re an enterprise-focused private Talent Cloud here in the UK—the number one Talent Cloud in the UK and the largest enterprise provider globally now. Seeing the effect that our business has had on freelancers and the outcomes that they're delivering for our customers—I mean, that that's more
exciting than aircraft.
Leveraging Elastic Teams unlocks sustainable growth
Glen Hodgson: Can we say a little bit more about the drivers behind Elastic Teams from a business perspective but also from an open talent perspective as well?
Cal Adamson: For our customers it's the recruitment, the qualification, the
onboarding, the securing, the paying, and the retaining of talent that's always missing for enterprises. Leaders need to start using freelancers repeatedly, predictably, and cost-effectively. At Distributed we focus on the assembly, deployment, management, and retention of teams. Team members are qualified more rigorously than with traditional freelancer platforms. We get a better sense of a freelancer’s personality, problem-solving methodology, skills, and communication styles. That's really what Elastic Teams are: The ability to deploy teams flexibly into organisations to build software products in a way that’s much more beneficial for the freelancer and the customer.
Glen Hodgson: Yes, we see a lot of HR departments being a little bit unsure about how to have this kind of freelancer strategy, how it fits in the whole compliance element. But of course you're working with big companies and organisations who could take this to heart and now it's in their DNA so the proof of the pudding is really there, Callum.
Cal Adamson: We work with the Ministry of Justice, the BBC, British Petroleum, British Telecom—you name it—and these are large, traditional companies. These are 120-150 year old companies that are now taking part in a recomposition of the workforce in order to address the tech talent shortage. In order to build software products more efficiently we have to use freelancers at scale. Every aspect of it
makes sense. There's no compromise on quality, no compromise on speed, no compromise on cost. They're looking at moving from roughly two-to-five percent current freelancer composition to 30% over the next five years. We were audited in Q4 by a customer and our Elastic Teams were proven to be 90% more productive than the industry average and 64% more productive than the client’s partnership average.
Traditional recruitment methods are missing the bigger picture
Glen Hodgson: Let's be honest about it, Callum: The traditional recruitment companies have not been able to solve the problem in the offline world or the online world. We still see these round-peg-in-a-in-a-square-hole situations time and time again. Distributed actually has taken the uncertainty out of this whole recruitment process by making sure it's a well-functioning blended team that's brought in here.
Cal Adamson: Yes, it's harder to build but it's more sustainable, beneficial, and valuable in the long term. Taking the approach that we do at Distributed and using the technology combined with our understanding of talent, it delivers much better outcomes and it represents a real care for talent. At Distributed, for freelancers, there are account management and documentation teams that actually take care of the admin so you do what you do best. That’s how we get high-quality talent.
Companies are always going to have core teams and those core teams are going to be hyper mission-aligned, focused on defining and building meaningful futures for their companies and their customers. Aiding that team whether it be specialist or just more team members required for greater output, that's all going to be done by Elastic Teams in the future. So it's smaller, better, more cared for core teams that are more adequately resourced and pointed in the direction of their zone of genius, supported by Elastic Teams that are also working in their zones of genius.
The future of work is in Elastic Teams today
To hear more about Distributed’s methodology and how we deploy Elastic Teams to work seamlessly with clients, listen to the full podcast.