As we have witnessed major unprecedented transformation in our way of work and life and the overwhelming success of WFH significantly accelerated demand for the best freelance talent across sectors. At Flexing It, we have seen a steady increase in demand for high end freelance talent (which comprises highly skilled, knowledge or white collar work) as organizations are piloting new ways of working, including longer term planning to leverage distributed global teams and a mix of full-time, flexible and freelance talent. There has also been an undeniable mind-set shift amongst professionals —we recorded a 2x increase in consultant registrations in Q2 on the platform — who are now looking at freelancing as a long-term strategy and a solid alternative in an uncertain job market.
With large corporates clearly driving demand (a change from a few years ago when start-ups and development sector organizations were early adopters), we are seeing that companies are leveraging independent talent to drive growth, with expertise in Strategy, Marketing & Technology accounting for over 50% of project requirements. Further, there has been a sharp focus on remote teams following the initial global lockdowns – 80% of projects on our platform have been remote, with growing acceptance amongst blue chip corporations for remote freelance work, and sharply defined projects.
Overall, the top 3 industries using freelancers on Flexing It are Professional Services/Consulting followed by FMCG and Pharmaceutical Industries. This year, the Education Sector and the Development sector are also leveraging more freelance talent accounting for 10% of the assignments posted.
We are seeing a high demand for experts with deep industry experience (manufacturing, operations with functional expertise e.g. supply chain, six sigma). 45% of projects on the platform required consultants with 10-15+ years of industry specific experience. While Top Tier, Strategy and Big 4 ex-consultants are being hired for flexible capacity during surge periods, researchers (trained at knowledge centres of consulting firms and leading market research players) are in demand for knowledge pieces and targeted research.
Freelance hiring trends in the Pharmaceutical & Healthcare sectors indicate a different approach – with leading firms adopting flexible talent as a core strategy to meet the increased demand for niche skills. For many large firms in this sector, Strategy & Manufacturing/Operations are the focus while top freelance talent is also being recurrently leveraged to help meet the rapid adoption of digital technology including tele-health tools, advanced analytics, IoT, enhanced marketing capabilities and portfolio management. In this sector, part-time support in core functions is also being used during surge periods e.g. senior talent acquisition experts, project management for key strategic initiatives.
In the FMCG sector, companies are utilizing consultants across high priority areas such as marketing and supply chain/logistics — for example marketing/brand consultants to support surge periods or new initiatives and launches, expertise in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, strategic sourcing, demand planning and category management, and advanced analytics support across functions.
Over 2019-20, we have also seen the education sector increasingly leveraging independent talent with a focus on strategy, business development and marketing. Large international firms as well leading ed-tech start-ups are utilizing freelance talent for strategy and business development to support growth and expansion plans, new business entry, process optimization, transition management, as well as content creation and technology skills to enable e-learning and the adoption of educational technology.
While growth in India’s high end freelancing segment was steadily increasing over the past 2 years, the pandemic brought a sharp focus to the benefits this talent pool offers businesses in India and internationally. We continue to see growth and longer term engagement as large corporates and SMEs alike embrace independent talent and hybrid distributed teams as key strategies to business success.
(The given article includes the inputs by Chandrika Pasricha, Founder & CEO, Flexing It)