In January we reached out to our freelance and temporary talent base to get some insight into how they are feeling about their occupation moving into 2021 and the years ahead.
We gained useful insight across a variety of topics from flexible working to IR35, but how do the thoughts of freelancers match up with what we are currently seeing in the market?
Prompted by the tangible benefits of working a flexible or remote pattern, including saving money on commutes and saving time for additional bookings, 52% of freelancers and temps surveyed want more contracts which offer fully remote working.
Though the introduction of flexible working is something fairly new for many permanent employees, for freelancers the opportunity to work offsite is not something new. What has changed is the volume of demand for fully remote opportunities.
Though many of the employers we work with are adapting more to a remote working model for freelance talent, we anticipate the availability of this work to decline once lockdown restrictions are lifted, aligned with trends in the permanent market.
Though the level of remote work may still be higher than pre-2020, we are anticipating many employers to switch to a hybrid working model (A split between office and home working). This places an expectation on freelancers to check in onsite on a weekly or at a crucial project stage basis meaning that a fully remote working pattern may not be viable with all bookings.
Our data showed that 79% of freelancers and temps are looking further afield for opportunities to maximise the availability of potential bookings, using remote working patterns to their advantage.
Whilst this opens up a range of new possibilities for freelancers and contractors who wish to take advantage of flexible working models, it is important to remember this also makes access to roles more competitive, especially those within local areas.
For freelancers looking to maintain their access to opportunities locally, we encourage them to place an emphasis on nurturing local relationships and business connections, using community ties and prior experiences to their advantage to source and maintain bookings.
Post 2020 many freelancers are looking to increase their range of skills to make themselves more appealing in a low demand market.
Though many in our study identified that digital and technical skills are likely to be in higher demand in 2021 and beyond, most are opting to develop their skills in the creative space, demonstrating the desire to diversify to standout.
Whilst this is a wise idea, it is important that freelancers don’t become too diversified. Across the markets we are seeing a surge in demand for specialist talent, especially within the digital and technical space where a rise in demand for SEO, PPC, Digital marketing and developer talent is clear.
Though specialist digital skills are on the rise now, some freelancers are looking further ahead and are up-skilling themselves across areas like virtual events, artificial reality and sustainability to name a few in order to get ahead of the competition.
The IR35 reforms are currently due to come into effect on April 6th 2021, and though delayed following 2020, only 21% of freelancers feel ready for the changes.
Recognising this, over the upcoming weeks we are going to be releasing tailored material to help freelancers prepare for the changes. To be notified when material is released, you can follow us on Linkedin.
Want to see how you compare to fellow freelancers and temps? Our latest insights report contains information on how freelancers adapted to the challenges faced in 2020 and what this means for them moving forwards.