Our guest today is Akos Gabossy, CEO and co-founder of the PanIQ Escape Room franchise. Akos is an experienced serial entrepreneur, who started his career at an early age, by opening Hungary’s 2 premiere family entertainment centers and an outdoor adventure park. At the moment, his biggest endeavor is the construction of PanIQ Room’s flagship Mega Escape Room unit on the Las Vegas Strip.
Akos, one would think that the construction of escape rooms requires a team of very experienced in-house workers. Why do you hire gig workers and freelancers?
We are building and operating premium escape rooms all over the world, a mission that requires the cooperation of numerous talented people. We are a fast-growing company, but it would be financially unreasonable to hire a full-time employee for every possible task. Designing an escape room is a complex process. On each project, we need to work with a variety of screenwriters, puzzle and theme designers, illustrators, voice actors, music editors and many others. Some of them have only a minor role, but every one of them is important. Platforms like Fiverr, Upwork or Thumbtack help us greatly since we can choose from the best experts in their field on a reasonable price point. I always tell my associates that we don’t have to be good at everything; we just have to be really good at finding people who are good at everything we need.
A great example in our case is our blog site, where we’re publishing articles about interesting topics, that are related to the escape room industry. PanIQ Room’s team comes up with the basics of each blog post, while we hire freelancers to edit the articles to be SEO-friendly, they revise the writings and create some of the illustrations.
That’s a good point. Having a major part of the work done by the team and hiring freelancers to work on specific tasks is a good strategy. Are freelancers and contingent workers less motivated and loyal than full-time employees?
Not at all. In fact, they have to perform at a higher level all the time, because they have to keep their ratings high. Some of the online platforms I mentioned guarantee quality work, which means that the client only pays if (s)he is satisfied. The most strategic work is obviously done by our full-time employees because we bear the final responsibility. It does take some extra effort on our part in order to outsource and brief certain tasks, which is an important investment, but it’s necessary to get the freelancer headed in the right direction.
We’ve also realized that the performance level of a freelancer improves as (s)he gets more familiar with our brand and work ethic. As such, we prefer to work with freelancers long-term, so that the synergy between us grows, bringing greater engagement and quality to our work.
Absolutely. That’s what we do at Transformify as well – we work with the same freelancers over and over again. Do you think that freelancers having more than one client add value to the company by bringing in fresh ideas and innovation?
This is an interesting question, since having more clients and more projects obviously result in more experience for the freelancers, helping them to develop different perspectives on projects. Ideally, this should improve the quality of their work and the ideas they can bring to a project over time.
On the other hand, shared attention can decrease the performance level, and longer deadlines can interrupt the flow of a project. In our case, the most essential ideas and innovative thoughts are coming from us; we just rely on others for the execution.
Every client is a little bit different, so it must be a tough thing for freelancers to perform adequately in each situation. Having a best practice is great, but for example a graphic designer or any other creative service provider should be able to contribute with new ideas to every project.
Providing high-quality work is the only way to guarantee a stable workflow. Full-time jobs are no longer making promises of either professional or financial security to today's workforce. Do you think that the gig economy is the future?
Based on my experience, most people are just not capable of becoming an entrepreneur. Being your own boss can be very stressful, and many business processes cannot be outsourced. Having a traditional workplace is a safe life strategy; the organization is always there to help and motivate the employees.
At the same time, the gig economy definitely results in higher efficiency for many companies, and it also influences the business process in more traditional companies. So, it will definitely play a significant role in how labor is sourced and utilized in the future.
I admire entrepreneurial thinking, and ideally, most workplaces should rate their employees and partly pay them based upon their performance. Efficiency is more important than redundant hours spent behind an office desk. At the same time, I think that people need stability and rules, which means that the gig economy can be a dangerous move for society.
About the author
Lilia Stoyanov is CEO and angel investor at Transformify. A fintech and digital transformation expert, she is also a professor at Zigurat Business School and expert evaluator Horizon 2020 at the European Commission.
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