An examination of the growing use of freelance talent in the APAC region.
By The Editors
Recent research from HRO Today and Allegis Global Solutions found that the use of freelancers in the APAC region is growing rapidly, with 45 per cent of respondents anticipating the use of freelancers will increase in the next 24 months. Use of freelancers over the past two years also increased, albeit more modestly, as nearly a quarter of respondents reported an increase during that time.
What positions do freelancers fill? Technology maintenance, and development, such as website, IT and software, were the most common job roles. Freelance talent is also often applied in the creative realm, including in graphic design, writing, and content.
Where do organisations source this talent? LinkedIn was the only source used by more than 50 per cent of respondents; universities took the second spot, used by 48 per cent of study participants. Whilst LinkedIn seems to making inroads in APAC, only 35 per cent of those respondents using it were satisfied, which suggests that progress in this region will be limited until dissatisfaction is remedied.
There are myriad factors that attract freelancers, but for most, higher pay isn’t one of them. Freelancers, highly value flexibility in the workplace, and this trend was reflected in the study. Flexibility was the top reason, cited by 85 per cent, followed by the chance to take on more interesting projects and clearly defined project specifications.
1. Use of freelancers over the last 24 months. Respondents were asked how their organisations’ use of freelancers changed over the last 24 months. Well over one-half (60 per cent) of study participants indicated they their use of freelancers has remained largely the same (see Figure 1). However, 24 per cent recorded an increase, and more than 16 per cent reported a decline. Those respondents who indicated a change were asked for the percentage of increase or decrease in their use of freelancers. The reported average increase was 16 per cent, whist the average decline was 8 per cent. The findings suggests a slight uptick in use of freelancers over the last 24 months
2. Use of freelancers over the next 24 months. The research found that 45 per cent of respondents anticipate their use of freelancers will increase in the next two years and 18 per cent anticipate a decrease (see Figure 2). Those anticipating an increase outnumbered those anticipating a decrease by two and one half times. How much of an increase is anticipated? The study found an average of 10 per cent. On the other hand, the average decline was 25 per cent.
3. Roles freelancers fill. Technology roles—website, IT, and software—were by far the most common with 52 per cent of organisations using freelancers to fill them (see Figure 3 with graphic design (29 per cent) and writing and content (26 per cent) following). These creative roles are often needed on a case-by-case basis, and creative thinkers sometimes prefer flexibility.
The only other area where at least 20 perc ent of study respondents leverage freelancers is in translation and languages. The APAC region is large and diverse, with many languages employed across many countries, all trying to do business together. Quick and accurate translation services are vital in the region, but again, often not needed enough to warrant full-time employment.
4. Sources of freelance talent. The study found that organisations leverage many sources for freelance talent, which is indicative of the broad scope of the APAC region (see Figure 4). Only one source—LinkedIn—was used by over one-half of respondents (54 per cent), suggesting that the social networking channel is making great headway in the APAC region, particularly in Hong Kong and Singapore. Other sources used with some degree of frequency include universities (48 per cent) and internet job boards (44 per cent). Contingent labour specialists and managed service programme (MSP) providers were also both used by over one-third of respondents.
5. Factors that most attract freelancers. Eight-five per cent of respondents say that flexibility is the top reason they take on freelance projects for organisations (see Figure 5). Fifty-two per cent of respondents report that more interesting projects and 48 per cent said clearly defined project specifications are reasons why they freelance for organisations. Higher pay was indicated by 22 per cent of respondents, suggesting they do not believe freelancers are attracted to their company for more compensation.
6. Biggest challenge in obtaining freelance talent. The study found that the biggest obstacle for organisations is finding freelancers with the skill set they need.