COVID-19 propelling the highly-skilled freelancer economy

As more staff look for work online, companies are also starting to hire more freelancers to cut costs, in response to the pandemic.
By: | November 23, 2020

COVID-19 has led to an increase in freelancing, highlights a report by Harvard Business School and Boston Consulting Group’s Henderson Institute.

It found that due to the pandemic, both the supply of highly-skilled freelancers and the need for on-demand talent is surging. 

On the supply side, staff who were laid off began to look for work online, and the availability of digital talent platforms provided full-time workers to look for flexible work alternatives, it said. 

Companies have also been forced to conduct business remotely, which resulted in bringing in new tech to manage operations and delivery services to customers. This in turn resulted in hiring a blend of full-time and independent professionals, either to cut costs or close the skills gap, it added.

Freelance site Upwork saw its client registration rise by 50% due to COVID-19 related shutdowns, with a demand for digital marketing expertise as more firms shifted to online marketing. 

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Another site, Freelancer, saw a rise of 53% in new paying hiring managers, as compared to June 2019. It also experienced a 25% increase in user sign-ups, mainly comprising freelancers. 

The report also revealed that companies were using digital talent platforms broadly across different functions and sectors. This spans R&D, marketing, strategic planning, and finance, with a focus on both high- and low-complexity work.