The Oblique Life: a member community for freelancers in London

25 January 2019 Consultancy.uk

One of Europe’s busiest hubs for freelancers, London, is filled with ambitious, talented independent consultants. While self-employment often brings many advantages such as greater flexibility and work-life balance, recent surveys show that a sizeable chunk of freelance consultants may miss the sense of belonging to a team/firm and support environments taken for granted in full-time employment.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics, the UK currently has 2 million freelancers, of which the largest group work and live in Greater London. However, even with everything that London has to offer, it can be an isolating city that requires that extra effort when working as a freelancer in order to make new connections both professionally and personally. 

In a bid to help freelancers form new friendships and meet people outside of their normal circles, three brothers – Romi, Shonil and Keyu Sumaria – teamed up to launch The Oblique Life. The members club strives to create welcoming environments through events that actively encourage people to break the ice and socialise. “The events are designed to cover a variety of interests across food and drink, music and art or even travel and shopping, with the aim to attract a community of like-minded individuals from all walks of life,” explained Romi Sumaria.

The Oblique Life: a member community for freelancers in London

Brother and co-founder Shonil Sumaria added: “Whether it’s life drawing with unlimited wine or yoga followed by brunch, every event has a social element, so you can turn up solo with the guarantee that you’ll meet someone new.” 

Having launched three years ago, Romi Sumaria said that he sees a number of patterns as to why freelancers, including independent consultants, enjoy using a coworking space or private members’ clubs to fulfil their professional and personal interests. “Freelancers often miss out on the little things that make a team such as Christmas parties or team lunches. This is also compounded when under pressure to deliver results or manage your own time.” 

Further, according to a survey by Epson, 91% of freelancers work from home alone. This means that 9 out of 10 freelancers may feel that they miss out on a supportive structure and moments of celebration, as opposed to their peers in full-time employment. “By connecting with a community of people who are social and open-minded, freelancers are finding that the members’ club can open doors whilst expanding social circles. Rather than heading to after-work drinks with their colleagues, freelancers can rely on attending an event.” 

Personal and professional support

One of the biggest concerns for freelance consultants is securing a pipeline of work. Building trusted networks based on face-to-face introductions and shared values can help facilitate the search for engagements. “Freelancers often don’t have the time they need to expand their network and it can be difficult to find new clients without having the spare resources to make new contacts. As a community of like-minded professionals, The Oblique Life is also being utilised by freelancers as an opportunity to network, pitch concepts and offerings and share professional interests.”

Romi Sumaria: “There’s no denying that freelancing has its pros and cons. Running your own business or freelancing can quickly become isolating, and finding a community to be a part of is key for achieving a successful and happy freelance career.”

Related: 5 reasons why independent consultants enjoy the freelance life.

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