57% of businesses say they will employ more freelancers than permanent staff by 2020

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Blended talent pools, made up of a mix of permanent employees, contractors and freelancers, will make up the workforce of the future.

According to a survey of more than 1,000 SMEs/companies, businesses of the near future are likely to rely more heavily on freelance and contracted talent than a permanent workforce. In the research conducted by the UK’s leading freelance marketplace, PeoplePerHour (PPH), more than half (57 per cent) of all respondents stated their intention to employ more freelancers than permanent employees by 2020, with just 12 per cent stating the reverse.

The reasons for this predicted seismic shift in employment practices were varied, but top of the list and important to 60 per cent of employers, was the ability to match the right person to the right task, the main benefit of which is improved productivity and efficiency, and something that cannot be replicated with the traditional employment model. The increased flexibility offered by a freelance workforce followed close behind, appealing to 59 per cent of respondents.

Other reasons given were access to talent on-demand – (51 per cent), faster access to talent  (44 per cent) better value than full-time employees (30 per cent) and increased efficiency (19 per cent).

These figures were reinforced by the fact that almost half (45.5 per cent) of the employers interviewed admitted to being either quite or very concerned about the current availability of skills and talent in the UK, while 58 per cent said that getting the best talent available, regardless of location, was the key benefit of being able to access the global freelance market. The ‘on-demand’ nature of a 24-hour workforce also appealed to more than half (55 per cent) of respondents, while 45 per cent believed that access to international talent allowed them to get the best skills with no geographical boundaries.

Further reasons given for valuing access to international freelancers were it’s more efficient (37 per cent), to gain access to new markets (21 per cent) and to overcome language barriers – (9 per cent).

For more than a third (39 per cent) of employers, the ability to access the freelance workforce was considered ‘very important’ to the future growth ambitions of their company. A further 17 per cent took that sentiment a step further, saying that the freelance workforce was ‘essential’ to the fulfilment of their plans, while only 2 per cent stated that freelancers were not important to their company’s future. More than half (51 per cent) went on to add that on-demand talent offers their company ‘a big competitive advantage’, while only 3 per cent considered it any kind of disadvantage.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour comments:

‘30 per cent of the British workforce is now freelancing in some capacity. This isn’t just because workers have switched on to the benefits of being their own boss, or because post-recession Britain offers fewer permanent employment opportunities; it’s because the use of a blended talent pool is mutually beneficial.

‘While, of course, some positions benefit from the continuity that a permanent workforce brings, niche freelance experts can bring a freshness and vitality to a company, not just delivering the new perspective that 22 per cent of our respondents valued, but the latest skills and specialist knowledge.  Business also benefits from the flexibility delivered by a blended talent pool, and more and more companies are realising this.’

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