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New Future Workforce Report finds nearly half of companies are thinking beyond traditional employment to embrace more flexible teams

The study reveals insights on business hiring from over 1,000 U.S. hiring managers

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - February 28, 2017 -Upwork, the world’s largest freelancing website, today released a new report on U.S. business hiring and future talent needs. The report, “Future Workforce: How Companies Embrace Flexible Teams to Get Work Done,” is based on a survey conducted by independent research firm Inavero. It focuses on knowledge work and explores how companies are evolving their hiring strategies to keep up with the changing nature of work.“Businesses are scrambling to adapt and keep up with the rapid pace of change in our world. In just a few years, a third of the skills needed in the workforce will be brand new,” said Upwork CEO, Stephane Kasriel. “Traditional models of hiring no longer provide the agility businesses must have to access in-demand skills when and where they’re needed. With 55 million Americans freelancing, businesses are thinking beyond archaic Industrial Era-approaches and turning towards flexible hiring to get work done.”

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • Hiring is getting harder - Over three times (41 percent) as many hiring managers felt hiring had gotten harder in the past year versus 14 percent who felt it had gotten easier. Hiring difficulties increased for nearly all roles. While technology roles continued to be the most difficult to fill, the top roles hiring managers reported increased difficulties hiring for were marketing, operations and legal.
  • Companies are utilizing flexible workers - Forty-eight percent (“flexible workers”). The top reasons for hiring these flexible workers were to help scale to meet project demands (56 percent) and to find skills not currently available in-house (49 percent).
  • Companies plan to increase their use of freelancers in 2017 -  One-third of companies utilized freelancers in 2016. Of these, 55 percent expect to have more freelancers in 2017.

As companies embrace flexible teams, perceptions of freelance work is changing

Companies are more strategic in their use of freelancersCompanies are including flexible work in their corporate planning. Sixty-four percent of hiring managers believe they use freelancers at least somewhat strategically. While companies are becoming more strategic in their use of freelancers, seventy-seven percent of hiring managers believe there is at least some room for improvement in their utilization of freelancers.Freelancers become more commonplace, especially for flexible access to in-demand skillsForty percent of hiring managers cited ability to scale to meet business needs as a top perceived benefit of hiring freelancers, followed closely by ease of finding skills that match my need at 39 percent.

While 41 percent of hiring managers cited developing relationships with existing teams, and 38 percent stated accountability as the biggest concerns in hiring freelancers, only one in 10 hiring managers expressed dissatisfaction with these aspects when rating their most recent freelance hire. Freelancers help companies get more work doneFour in five hiring managers reported increased productivity as a result of hiring freelancers. Seventy-seven percent of hiring managers said utilizing freelancers helped them get more done, while 48 percent said freelancers helped them efficiently scale their teams to meet project workloads. Freelancers help companies grow the overall pie by filling opportunities that would otherwise go unfilled. 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.

“Corporate adoption of freelancers is poised to increase,” said Barry Asin, President of Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), a leading global research firm focused on staffing and workforce solutions. “This study aligns with SIA’s own research suggesting organization's’ intentions to further embrace a variety of non-traditional work arrangements. Driven by the growing acceptance of freelancing as well as technological advances, companies are integrating freelancers and other contingent workers into their strategic planning as they see the value of new working alternatives in addressing critical business challenges.”

About Upwork’s Future Workforce Report

To see further insights, please visit the results deck here. 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 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 world’s largest freelancing website. As an increasingly connected and independent workforce goes online, knowledge work—like software, shopping and content before it—is shifting online as well. This shift is making it easier for clients to connect and work with talent in near real-time and is freeing professionals everywhere from having to work at a set time and place.Freelancers are earning more than $1 billion annually via Upwork. Upwork 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 EvansUpworkpress@upwork.com