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Future Workforce: Majority of HR teams are embracing a flexible workforce to drive corporate talent innovation

Roughly half of HR managers are utilizing freelancers to increase organizational effectiveness and achieve bottom-line results

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - May 2, 2017 -Upwork, the largest freelancing website, today released new data that reveals how HR teams are innovating their talent acquisition strategies to adapt to the changing nature of work. The data is a specific cut of results from HR respondents to Upwork’s Future Workforce Report, which explores U.S. business hiring and today’s workforce composition. For an overview of the HR results, see this infographic.

“The workforce is changing rapidly. HR is under increasing pressure from business leaders to constantly realign talent strategies with evolving business objectives,” said Upwork VP of HR and Talent Innovation, Zoe Harte. “Now is the time for HR to use its seat at the table to be a driver of innovation and change. By strategically leveraging freelancers, temp and agency workers to increase capacity and fill critical skills gaps, HR is powering businesses to expand and grow into new markets.”

Key takeaways from the newly released HR data include:

  • Location doesn’t matter - Only 1 in 10 hiring managers believe location is important to a new team member’s success (skills and work ethic are what matter most today).
  • HR is embracing remote work - Sixty-eight percent of HR managers have someone on their team that works a significant portion of their time remotely. Technology has made being in the office less of a factor when hiring new team members, only 1 in 10 HR managers believe location is important to a new team member’s success.
  • Hiring must evolve - Seventy-seven percent of HR managers agree that companies that don’t evolve their hiring strategies are at a competitive disadvantage.
  • HR utilizes flexible teams - A majority (62 percent) of HR managers are utilizing freelancers, temporary and agency workers (“flexible workers”). The top reasons for hiring flexible workers were to help scale to meet project needs (60 percent) and to find skills not currently available in-house (54 percent).

HR is driving agility and operational efficiencies with a flexible workforce

Freelancers are faster to contributeIt takes HR managers less than half the time to find a freelancer and have them start contributing as compared to an employee. On average, freelancers start contributing in 12 days versus 29 days for traditional employees.Freelancers help companies get more doneSeventy-three percent of HR managers said utilizing freelancers helped them get more done, while 56 percent said freelancers helped them quickly and efficiently scale to support project demands. Freelancers help companies grow and create opportunities that would otherwise not exist. In fact, if they had been unable to hire a freelancer, 84 percent of hiring managers said they would have been forced to delay, cancel or extend project workloads.

HR adoption of freelancers will increaseHR managers are incorporating freelancers into their strategic plans as they realize the value of alternative work arrangements in addressing business objectives. Seventy-nine percent of HR managers expect their department to utilize as many or more freelancers in 2017. The adoption of freelancers is poised to increase as HR strives to create the best teams for the future. The majority (54 percent) of HR managers believe that freelancing will continue to increase.

About Upwork’s Future Workforce Report

The report was conducted by independent research firm Inavero. This is the first year the study has been conducted. More than 1,000 U.S. hiring managers, including over 200 HR managers, were surveyed through a third-party, independent online sample between December 1, 2016 - December 10, 2016. The study has an overall margin of error of ±3.09% at a 95% level of confidence.

About Upwork

Upwork is the largest freelancing website. Upwork Enterprise combines technology and services, giving companies a single solution that makes it simple, quick and cost effective to access qualified freelance talent.Twenty percent of Fortune 500 companies utilize Upwork to find and engage freelancers, including organizations such as Airbnb, Dropbox, Pfizer and Juniper Networks. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., with offices in San Francisco and Oslo, Norway. For more information, visit our website at www.upwork.com, join us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

About Inavero

Inavero is a global leader in human capital management research. The firm powers satisfaction and thought leadership studies for hundreds of top firms within the space and leverages more than 300,000 survey responses annually to provide insight into the millions who work in the gig economy and the companies who hire them. For more information, visit https://www.inavero.com/.


Katie Evans