Five Trends for Freelancers Post Covid-19: Opportunity or Challenge?
Freelancers have always been a part of the workforce, but since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the gig economy has grown significantly. According to the report by KellyOCG, nearly one-third of global workers are freelancers or free agents. In the Asia Pacific, 84% of hiring managers outsource to freelancers.
There are many reasons for this rise in freelancers, including job losses due to the pandemic and a desire for a new flexible way of working. Becoming a freelancer comes with many benefits, but it also has its own set of challenges.
For the growing freelance population, and the people who are considering freelancing, what are the most important figures, topics and trends in 2022? As a freelancer, we are entirely responsible for our workload, gaining clients and taking our piece of the market. For this reason, it’s vital that we understand these trends in order to prepare ourselves and maintain our flexible approach to how we operate ourselves as a business. We share our insights in this article.
The Great Resignation
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of the entire job market. This was kicked off in early 2020 with significant job losses and a tightening of the labour market, which has since given rise to a record number of people quitting their jobs in what has been coined, ‘The Great Resignation’.
During the pandemic, office workers had a taste of what freelancers experience – remote work, flexibility, no commute, and choice of hours. It opened people’s eyes to a work-life balance they didn’t know they could have, and for many, going back to the office wasn’t an option. In fact, more than a quarter of workers in Singapore intend to quit their jobs in 2022. So what does The Great Resignation mean for freelancers?
Booming freelance market – Remote work options are growing as employers have realised that widening their talent pool by not being location dependent in their candidate searches is beneficial to them. It means they can employ people from all over the world, in different time zones, which allows for increased productivity, savings on office space and wages. With record numbers of gigs available, this is a great time to be a freelancer. It’s best to get in now and make a name for yourself, because we know that the market can change at any time. Take advantage of what is out there.
Increasing talent gaps – We know that there are many full time jobs that companies just can’t fill with permanent workers. This means that they need to find someone quickly to do the work. Freelancers are the best choice for this. It’s quick and effective to hire a freelancer, several freelancers or remote work teams, to take on a project that would have been worked on by a full time employee.
Industry knowledge – Compared to full-time employees, freelancers may not have a deep understanding of the current state of the specific market in which the project operates. So one of the challenges for freelancers is that you may need more time to learn industry knowledge in order to complete excellent work.
Low price competition – Whilst the new model works for some, for others it isn’t enough and people are still quitting their jobs, causing an increase in competition for the existing freelance community. This has in some cases caused freelancers to compete by dropping their prices which can have a knock on effect to the whole community.
Hybrid Work Model
In the post-epidemic era, most companies have begun to choose to return to the office, but some employees who are used to working from home are reluctant to return to the office. So, a more flexible working model – a hybrid working model was born. The hybrid model allows people to take a more flexible approach to work, blending onsite work with home working. What does it mean for existing freelancers?
Ease of hiring – Hiring a freelancer is a quick process. There is little commitment, so if the freelancer doesn’t work out, an employer has no obligation to keep working with them and they have no commitments to holiday pay, training, and other expenses.
Work life balance – Under the epidemic, employees started paying more attention to their physical and mental health. According to a survey carried out by FlexJobs, an online freelance platform, 68% of 4,600 workers prioritise better work-life balance over higher pay. In addition, 39% of workers would consider quitting if their bosses made them return to the office full time, Morning Consult survey shows. Some companies are more willing to hire freelancers to join their teams based on the consideration of the current situation of the employees and companies’ cost.The is because freelancers are hired on project or contract basis. Moreover, companies are not obliged to provide employee welfare benefits to freelancers, unlike official workers.
Unstable income – The upside to being a freelancer is being your own boss, making your own decisions, and enjoying work-life balance you wouldn’t have as a salaried employee. Income instability, however, is something you should consider since you may have to take time off from work. For instance, when you are unwell, your income will be reduced.
Poor team communication – The barriers in language and timezone difference causes freelancers who are working remotely to have difficulty in effective communication. Without being in a physical space with the company and team members, there may also be miscommunication that can lead to mistakes, delays and even misalignments on projects.
The importance of social media
Social media such as LinkedIn, Instagram are an important part of running a freelancer business. As a freelancer, they are both a way to gain valuable connections and access to work opportunities. It is very important to choose a suitable social media platform to build your profile and find your ideal clients.
It is crucial to complete all profile information, including your area of expertise and skills, your years of experience, honours and awards. Include links, PDFs, and websites that will help you showcase your portfolio to potential clients.
Your headline is important and must really spell out what you do, using industry keywords, showing your level and a searchable title. Online tools such as Canva can be used to create good and meaningful profile banners to enhance profile building.
Once you’ve built your profile, use it. This is the important part. Your profile is your ticket to connect with potential clients. Post updates, connect with people in the industries you want to get into, connect with decision makers, comment on content and post updates and examples of your projects. This will win you clients.
In-demand freelance jobs
Whilst freelancing is growing, there are certain skills that are more in demand than others. Tech skills are particularly valuable right now. Remember, this can change so it’s important to keep your skills up to date and to move with trends:
Software engineering – Digital processes are becoming more widespread among all types of companies and this means there is an increase in demand for professionals with skills in software development, internet security and data analysis.
Graphic design – Creating visual content that tells a message or identifies with a brand is a skill in demand, especially in marketing roles. Freelancers that have specialisms in relevant design software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator often do well.
Web design – Companies need websites and they need skilled people to build them. Freelancers are often used in these fields for short term projects for a variety of clients. Designers skilled in Product design, User Interface design and User Experience design are often sought after.
Mobile and App development – Creating apps and writing software for mobile devices is a booming industry. Freelancers in this field are in high demand.
Growing freelance marketplace
Mismatched supply and demand
The freelance labour market is undoubtedly growing, with more and more people turning to freelancing as a result of the great resignation. Equally, given the reduction in permanent employees, companies are looking to fill gaps in their workforce and specialist projects with freelancers.
However, there is often a mismatch between supply and demand. The demand for freelance professionals has increased, but finding someone suitable can be a problem. Companies are spending large amounts of time and money to find suitable freelancers, which can be more challenging than traditional recruitment routes.
For traditional recruitment, the support of head-hunters and recruitment consultants may be employed, which isn’t an option in the freelance world. The magnitude of finding a freelancer worldwide, rather than being limited by location and languages as with non-remote workers makes the process exciting but extremely difficult.
With plenty of work and skilled freelancers available, more and more freelancers are turning to online project platforms. In the past, these were often viewed negatively as content mills that drove down freelancers wages and charged large platform fees to users. The world of online project platforms has changed with new big players entering the market, benefiting both employers and freelancers alike.
Online Freelance Platform
The use of project platforms has increased by 26%, according to the Oxford Internet Institute. Upwork and Fiverr are well known platforms. These remote work platforms are places for freelancers and employers to connect. Employers can search for the specific skill set they are looking for via profiles that freelancers set up. Employers can advertise gigs, and freelancers can apply by presenting their credentials and being selected. They do not specialise in any field, but work across the board.
Other freelance platforms such as Toptal and Works specialise in the technology, design and business fields. These platforms are proving to be particularly popular in the future as they are focusing on high-demand jobs such as software engineering, data analytics, graphic design, UI/UX design and mobile app development, as they better serve the needs of freelancers and clients in these niches.
What can freelancers do in the future?
With job resignation and the reluctance to return to an office environment at all-time high, freelancing is becoming more popular amongst former employees and employers alike. It comes with many advantages and also many challenges to navigate to ensure consistent, well paid work.
If you are a freelancer and you want to get ahead and make something of yourself in the freelance market, here are several things you can do:
Upskilling is important when you are freelancing, especially if you are working in a tech field. IT changes at a rapid pace and if you are not on top of things, you will be beaten to a gig by someone who has more up-to-date skills than you. Self-learning doesn’t have to be a certified course, it can be free short courses, experience, tutorials, or mentorship.
Professional freelancer platform
Works is Asia’s first blockchain and AI driven work marketplace, enabling companies to hire top business, design, and technology talent , while providing freelancers with access to high quality and well paid jobs. There are plenty of freelancer platforms, but Works stands out for several reasons:
AI Matching: Works’ AI technology and experts match you with jobs from leading companies based on your skill set and portfolio goals in 48 hours.
100% Earnings: Freelance talent retains 100% of the earnings from clients without any hidden fees or commissions. You can do what you love and earn what you deserve.
WORKS Tokens: Freelancers can earn WORKS tokens on the platform to unlock free career resources, exclusive community benefits and enjoy long-term benefits.
AI Translation: Works’ AI translation helps freelancers communicate effectively via text and voice with clients in different countries so you can reduce the time spent trying to understand or be understood by clients who speak different languages.
Be paid on time: All Works’ projects are automatically insured to ensure that freelancers will always get paid.
Long-term projects: Projects on Works average 2 months long, join Works to start your premium freelance journey today!