Freelance workers could answer flexible workforce demand

2021 could be a notable year for freelancers as demand for them has increased according to a nationwide survey by online job site PeoplePerHour.

Findings suggested freelancers could be a viable alternative option for recruiters, HR managers and business leaders looking for a more flexible workforce due to COVID-19.

At 67%, the most popular reason for using freelancers was to introduce skills the business didn’t have in-house.

Forty-two per cent of business leaders said flexible talent can also help to speed up projects.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder of PeoplePerHour, said freelancers could provide businesses with the flexibility they now need due to lockdowns and unpredictable workflows.

He said: “Businesses are increasingly experiencing the benefits of using a more flexible workforce and people are taking the opportunity to take control of their work-life.

“The research indicates there is every reason to believe that the freelance community will continue to grow over the next few years.”

Sixty per cent of business leaders said that they plan to use freelancers more in 2021.

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These findings also suggest an improved outlook for freelance workers, many of whom have struggled with a lack of support during lockdowns.

In response to criticism that the UK government was not providing enough financial support to freelancers at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, workers unions and the public took independent action in March last year by signing a petition set up by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

Melanie Steel, owner of People Change Expertise, told HR magazine that everybody had a role to play in trying to influence the government to do more for the five million UK citizens who are self-employed.

She said: “The self-employed make up over 15% of the UK’s workforce and should be getting paid regardless of whether they are interim, consultants, contractors, freelancers and so on.”

While a fifth of freelancers said they took on more contracts in 2020, it is likely more people will be vying for the work. According to the survey, 57% of freelancers have seen more competition for work since March 2020.

PeoplePerHour’s survey involved 500 business owners and 1,000 freelancers.