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Nearly half use some form of a flexible workforce, Upwork report finds

February 28, 2017

Nearly half of companies, 48%, utilize at least some form of a flexible workforce, according the “Future Workforce: How Companies Embrace Flexible Teams to Get Work Done” report released today by online staffing provider Upwork.

The survey found 35% of departments use temporary workers, 34% use freelancers and 26% use agency workers. And 64% of hiring managers believe they use freelancers at least somewhat strategically, although 77% believe there is at least some room for improvement in their strategic utilization of freelancers.

Sixty-five percent of departments plan to grow total employee headcount in 2017 and more than half of those who leveraged freelancers last year, 55%, expect to increase their usage in 2017.

“Corporate adoption of freelancers is poised to increase,” said Staffing Industry Analysts President Barry Asin. “This study aligns with SIA’s own research suggesting organizations’ intentions to further embrace a variety of nontraditional 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.”

Forty-one percent of hiring managers said hiring had gotten harder in the past year compared to 14% 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.

“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.”

The study is based on an online survey conducted by independent research firm Inavero. The survey included 1,004 workforce hiring decision makers and was conducted from Dec. 1 to Dec. 10, 2016.


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