A new study of the freelance workforce tells us that there are close to one billion freelancers and that number is growing.
And what’s driving that phenomenon? Productivity, competition for high-quality talent, and reduced hiring frictions.
All of this may be paving paving the way for a future full of “yes” when it comes to small-business employers. Freelance professionals are enjoying fresh attention in 2013.
“What is clear is that online freelancing appears to be an answer to worker happiness in terms of increased flexibility and quality of life, as well as to increased financial independence,” according to an annual impact report recently released by Elance. From what’s driving freelance and business choices to how those decisions are affecting bottom lines — here are some highlights of the study.
1. High Quality Talent Is an Attractor: In the past year alone, there has been a 153% increase in freelancers online with skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. That means that employers are increasingly likely get used to searching for the right individuals with the right skillsets in the digital space. The longer that goes, on the more entrenched the concept will become.
2. Online Workers Like Their Independence: Sixty-nine percent that answered the survey said they were happier when freelancing versus working in a traditional onsite job. The average freelancer estimates they have 28 more personal days than they did working in a corporate environment. This is another recipe for keeping the online workforce of 1 billion at those numbers or better. Appealing work environments bring new participants. That’s just intuitive.
3. Small-business Owners Perceive Online Searches as a Competitive Edge. Hiring freelance talent to fill part-time needs suggests a competitive edge to 85% of companies, the study said.
4. Reduced Hiring Friction Helps Bottom Lines: According to a new measure of Labor Department data, the average hiring time under traditional methods is 23 days. That’s time and effort on the part of HR, and that’s lost or negatively affected productivity when a position is left open. By some measures, the survey suggests that online hiring can shave that turnaround to just 3.3 days. There isn’t a small-business owner on the planet who’d balk at that, if the skills and experience of the candidate selected are as solid as anyone hired under the old way.
If bottom lines go down for the employer, and incomes increase for those freelancers getting hired, then the future of this new way of thinking about workers and job fulfillment stands to become more and more the norm in 2014 and beyond.