The freelance economy has grown since the pandemic of the last year. Tim Sanders, VP of Customer Insights at Upwork and New York Times bestselling author, shares how the hybrid freelance workforce is going to accelerate even more in the future, and why.
Tim speaks to the enterprise trends at Upwork, one of the largest worldwide staffing companies, that organizations of all sizes are feeling much more comfortable at working with freelance talent. He says that according to their December Future Workforce Report, research shows that there is a significant correlation between a manager’s comfort with remote work and their comfort with leveraging freelancers.
As a result, many organizations have started to leverage places like Upwork, more than ever, to help grow their business and scale up during a time of uncertainty.
Freelance benefits for projects include:
- Get the work done fast
- Contain costs
- Most importantly, bring specialization to a project and improve project outcomes:
- Rather then re-skilling a current employee, bringing in a freelance worker can infuse a project environment with their specific expertise, saving money and time.
Tim says that he and his group anticipate that leaders and businesses will use freelance talent even more moving forward — he predicts that things will not go back to the way they were before. Much like the acceleration of the hybrid workplace, he believes we will see a trend where the hybrid workforce accelerates in its adoption of the human cloud. More importantly, leaders will put their independent talent at the heart of their businesses, as opposed to them just being on the edges in the gig-work model.
What are the major challenges from marketplaces, such as Upwork, to cater to the huge demand?
Tim says that at Upwork their #1 requirement from freelancers is that they are full-time, expert professionals, often operating their own stable businesses. Leaders and companies are looking for talent clouds, usually around centers of excellence like marketing, technology and customer success and need specialized professionals who will be available for freelance services for the long-term.
Upwork has to ensure that their workers offer the following:
- Commitment to their business, professionalism
- A portfolio or a demonstrated body of work
- Increasingly moving forward
- Have certifications
- Use assessments as needed
Companies consistently ask how they can be sure that freelance workers are onboarded very quickly so they are generating positive outcomes in a relatively short amount of time.
Tim shares that they are developing some key ways to ensure businesses have faster onboarding, with the following:
Having a Project Manager Upworker:
- Develops company templates for other freelancers
- Offers company-specific knowledge and values
- Assists other freelancers to onboard more quickly with companies
- They specialize in one part of a project process
- One example is a mobile software development team
- The team offers a “soup-to-nuts” solution for a client
- They are a virtual team and can be much more affordable because they have much less overhead
Tim shares that, as the world continues to grow its freelancing community, the time is now for organizations to start building their own virtual talent cloud of leader, specialists and contributors. Specialized freelance workers will be hired quickly over these next few years and leaders will want to be sure they secure the top tier freelancers to augment their projects going forward.