Is The Golden Age Of Remote Freelancers On Its Way?
As companies emerge from the pandemic, hybrid teams, some of which are traditional employees and some of freelancers, are quickly gaining ground.
The trend is likely to continue as companies expand their operations in 2021. 36.1% of hiring managers say they want to “slightly” or “significantly” increase their dependency on independent talent over the next six months, according to Upwork’s latest “One” Year Remote “report.
This trend is in line with others, which bodes well for freelancers who enjoy working remotely. The report estimates that 20-25% of professionals will be working remotely over the next five years. As the report notes, historically the same companies that tend to hire freelancers were also those that were familiar with remote working.
Upwork chief economist Adam Ozimek
“It’s a great time to be a remote freelancer,” said Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork. “For those who haven’t taken this step, now is a great time – there are so many people out there looking for freelancers right now, it’s a great opportunity.”
Many freelancers will find companies familiar with remote working who lay out the welcome mat. Upwork said it had 6,400 new core customers in the fourth quarter, compared to 4,000 in 2019.
If managers personally enjoy working remotely, the chances of working with freelancers are 10-16% higher, the report says. Perhaps it is not surprising that 58% of professionals who are not currently self-employed reported that they will become self-employed in the future
As the report suggests, the pandemic has provided more evidence that both workers and employers feel that remote working increases productivity. Overall, 61% of workers said remote working had increased productivity, and at the end of April it was 32.2% of hiring managers. The convenience of hiring managers working remotely increased over time. 68% said in a second survey in November that remote working was going better than it was when the pandemic started.
Greater adoption of remote working seemed to give many professionals – both freelancers and employees – a greater sense of geographical freedom, the report said. An estimated 23 million people planned to move because of an improved ability to work virtually. Many also find that working remotely gives them more freedom and saves them time and money commuting, the report said.
With this in mind, Upwork introduced the “Project Catalog” in January, in which employers can buy a curated collection of predefined projects at fixed prices on the platform. For example, someone looking to build a website can search thousands of projects and find the freelancers they need, whether or not they know exactly what roles to fill. The project catalog identifies the types of professionals they need and gives them access to suitable candidates. “We want to make sure that anyone who comes to the platform can work with freelancers the way they’d like to work with them,” says Ozimek.