The Hallway experiments with swapping freelancers desk space for services rendered

The HallwaySydney agency The Hallway is experimenting with a new business model leasing out agency desks to freelance specialists in return for a set number of contra hours each month to work on Hallway business.

Agency founder Jules Hall said the model had been developed to give the agency access to specialists it could not afford to maintain on a full time basis, but still giving it continuity.

He said that while all agencies relied on freelancers to help manage the ebb and flow of work while maintaining margins, the drawback was the right freelancers and people who understood and fitted in with the agency’s culture were not always available.

Hall said the approach gave the agency talent on tap without impacting its margins.

“There is a bunch of skills that are peripheral to our core competency,” said Hall.

“Every agency uses freelancers. Talk to any traffic manager and you can’t find the person you need when you need them.”

The agency advertised for people who wanted desk space in return for a certain number of contra hours per month.

More than 50 people responded to the ads and the agency finally leased desk space to five freelancers from a range of backgrounds.

These included an illustrator and street artist, a long-form storyteller, a motion graphics designer, a high-end designer and fine artists and a user experience specialist.



“All of them have done more than their required contra hours and any extra hours are paid at the going rate,” said Hall.

Since the experiment began six months ago the members of the collective have become an integral part of the agency, even when not working on Hallway business.

One hurdle to developing the program was how the agency would deal with members of the collective working on business for other agencies – an occupational hazard of the way the model has been devised.

“We had to work very carefully on the contract and if they work for another agency they cannot do that work on our premises.”

While other agencies lease desk space to freelancers The Communications Council told Mumbrella it was the first example it had seen of contra hours for the agency being part of the contract for desk rentals.

Simon Canning


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