Is the pandemic showcasing talent like never before? Are you missing an opportunity?

There is a National Freelancers Day - who knew?! (June 17th next year for those of you that are curious!), which only goes to support the research done even before COVID that the numbers of people freelancing, consulting and going self employed in the UK was massively on the rise.

The number of freelance workers has grown by 25% since 2009 and turns over an estimated £119bn a year, according to figures published by IPSE. (The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed). Representing 1.9 million of the estimated 4.6 self-employed workers in the UK, freelancers are knowledge based individuals who provide their expertise and services on an on-demand basis.

Interestingly the number of female freelancers has increased by 55% from 2008 whilst there has been a 79% growth in mothers working as freelancers & interestingly millennials are driving freelance growth, with a 66% increase in the 16-29 age bracket since 2008.

Post the financial crisis in 2008, freelancing evolved as being a route taken out of necessity to one taken out of choice.

The advantages to the individual of choosing a freelance career are in my opinion both obvious and an easy sell - you have more flexibility, which in turn means a better work-life balance is more obtainable, you can work from anywhere, you can choose the projects you work on and of course the pay rates in freelance work are often higher than permanent employment.

Stats: Caunce O'Hara Insurance

Of course all these stats are from pre 2020 when the world of work was a very different place. The self employed as a whole have generally struggled to get the financial support they need and indeed often are entitled to - meaning that lockdown has, for many been devastating to their business.

But I do feel strongly that where there is crisis there is always opportunity and for me this extends both to the clients who are accessing the talent and those like myself who are taking the plunge into self employment. Of course I can only talk from personal experience and having already experienced the worries and anxiety around the prospect of not getting regular work, I do realise freelancing is definitely not for everyone.

I do feel however feel the real winner here is the clients and companies employing freelancers or consultants. When the furlough scheme comes to end this coming October sadly I suspect we will see more redundancies being made across all industries. The trend of going self employed will rise, albeit this time, in part, for some out of necessity.

Being lean is going to be the chosen business model and using freelance workers or consultants will allow companies to keep costs down by paying an agreed amount for a project or work completed over a fixed time period without the burden of overhead. Most freelancers already possess all of the necessary skills and qualifications meaning no training costs and benefits such as

healthcare, retirement, paid sick leave and so on are handled by the freelancer.

Hiring a full-time or even a part-time employee typically means that companies must offer them a set amount of hours. An antiquated set-up can put them at a disadvantage because companies may be paying for more than they really need. This cuts into productivity and profitability, which ultimately hurts the bottom line. Another plus is that freelancers don’t have to work any set hours. For example, you could hire a web designer to update your site over the weekend even when your business is closed.

Freelancers and consultants will usually have spent time focusing solely on what they do, meaning that they will likely have more experience in their field. Because of this, businesses get high quality work from an experienced professional, with work being delivered in a timely fashion.

Seldom does a single employee possess the skills to be a master at several tasks. Hiring freelancers or consultants allows companies to hire consummate professionals for each project or task, allowing them to operate their business at the highest possible level.

It will be interesting to see the stats of the self employed and those that choose to go down the freelance or consultant route post pandemic but for now it is the right choice for me and definitely the right choice for my clients.

Sally Rice is the Founder and Managing Director of S Rice Consultancy who offer companies in the commercial interiors industry advice on the operational areas of business with the aim of helping them gain more time and cost efficiencies, maintain sustainable growth and ultimately improve their bottom line.

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