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

Business Insights

  • Blended talent pools, made up of a mix of permanent employees, contractors and freelancers will make up the workforce of the future.
  • The ability to match the right person to the right task is the biggest draw of freelance talent
  • More than a third of employers (39%) say that freelancers are ‘very important’ to their company’s growth expectations

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%) of all respondents stated their intention to employ more freelancers than permanent employees by 2020.

The reasons for this predicted seismic shift in employment practices were varied, but top of the list and important to 60% 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 using the traditional employment model. The greater flexibility offered by a freelance workforce followed close behind in importance, appealing to 59% of respondents.

Other reasons given were:

  • Access to talent on-demand - 51%
  • Access to a wider pool of talent - 50%
  • Faster access to talent - 44%
  • Better value than full-time employees - 30%
  • Increased efficiency - 19%
  • Without freelancers it would be difficult to keep up to date with the latest skill requirements - 19%

These figures were reinforced by the fact that almost half (45.5%) 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% 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%) of respondents, while 45% 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%
  • To get a different perspective - 22%
  • To gain access to new markets - 21%
  • To overcome language barriers - 9%

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

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour comments:

"30% 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% 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."