Since the start of the pandemic, employees and employers alike have observed many changes taking place at their workplaces. Many were forced to work from home to prevent the further spread of the Covid-19 virus, while some others saw pay cuts and retrenchments in their offices. Many were understandably upset by the changes brought about by the pandemic but some others rejoiced over reasons such as higher flexibility of their time as well as not having to travel to their physical office. Not only has the pandemic had a profound impact on the global economy, it has also changed the way in which employees operate in the recesses of their homes.
Ways in which the pandemic has changed the way we work
Improved home office setup
At its peak, Singapoe saw around 54% of its working population working from home during the pandemic. Many sought to make adjustments in their homes to boost their productivity and some purchased additional equipment to emulate their regular office setting. For instance, some people might be more used to working with dual monitors when working at the office. When faced with a single monitor at home, it can feel jarring and restrictive from what they normally use. As such, they may choose to invest in a second monitor to upgrade their home office.
Some people may try to make better use of their resources and build another source of income with the skills they already have along with the newer equipment they added to their homes. They might subsequently consider venturing into freelancing to be a good choice to start earning additional income.
More time spent at home
Working from home also cuts out travelling time, which can save a lot of time especially for those whose residences are located further from their offices. This can allow for higher flexibility for workers if they are juggling different tasks at once. They can make time to run quick errands in their vicinity during lunch breaks which might not otherwise have been possible if they were at their physical office instead. This also leaves employees more time to devote themselves to learning new skills or honing current skills that could improve their performance at work.
Some might have been handed a bad hand during the pandemic such as being asked to go on no-pay leave during the pandemic or might have had their wages cut. As such, they might try to think of ways to make up for the drop in income by searching for other avenues in which they could earn some extra cash. Research analysts looking into freelancing can consider providing research services to others on their days off, thereby adding on to their main income at their regular job.
The number of users registered on Freelancer, an Australian freelance marketplace website, increased from 41.9 million at the end of 2019 to 50.8 million at the end of 2020, indicating an increase of approximately 21.2%. This number would reach 53.1 million by June 2021, meaning the number of registered users increased by more than a quarter since the start of the pandemic. Employees from many different industries can start a side hustle if they can find a way to market their services to prospective clients. For instance, research analysts looking into freelancing can consider providing research services to others on their days off by exploring freelance platforms, thereby adding on to their main income at their regular job.
It was found that more than one-fifth of the working population was able to work remotely three to five days a week with the same efficiency they would have demonstrated when working in an office. If the level of remote work were to persist, this would mean that the number of employees working from home would increase by two to threefold. While not all job positions are suited for a work-from-home arrangement, industries such as IT, project management, accounting, marketing, consulting, and writing are posting more remote jobs.
Many companies have evolved to employing more freelancers due to the benefits that can be reaped. In 2019, the number of freelancers in Google’s workforce was more than that of the number of permanent employees. The 120,000 freelancers/contractors made up 54% of the work population at Google while 102,000 permanent employees constituted the remaining 46%. Google is one of the many companies that has embraced a hybrid work arrangement that amalgamates the benefits of both full-time and freelance staff. For one, freelancers often place less of a financial strain on companies who otherwise have to pay more for employee welfare benefits that permanent staff are expected to receive. They also offer businesses access to special resources and expertise.
Growth of the gig economy
Almost two-thirds of hiring managers around the globe say that the gig economy is quickly becoming the new norm for the way firms organize their workflows. 84% of hiring managers outsource work and jobs to freelancers in the Asia Pacific. Also, 43% of global organizations that work with freelancers have reduced labour costs by more than 20 per cent.
The gig economy in Singapore has been flourishing especially during the pandemic since it kept many afloat during tumultuous times of pay cuts and recessions. In 2020, the number of people in Singapore who engaged in “own account work”, otherwise known as freelancing work, was 228,200, an 8.15% up from 211,000 in 2019. Out of the 228,200 who freelanced in 2020, 190,000 of them were primary own account workers which meant that their freelancing work was their main source of income. This meant the remaining 37,300 or 16% of own account owners were secondary own account workers; they dabbled in freelance work while having a main job.
An increasing number of businesses are considering or already working with freelancers who offer different benefits from permanent employees. Those who have yet to assess the merits of outsourcing jobs to freelancers could very well be missing out on cost savings and faster deliverables which freelancers can help to bring about.
How companies can benefit from an increase in freelancers
While there are benefits and advantages of contracting with freelancers that are specific to each industry and sector, it would seem that in many cases, hiring on-demand allows businesses to keep their costs lower. There are several reasons why hiring freelancers is more affordable than hiring full-time staff members. For one, a full-time basis often entails employee welfare benefit plans that provide sickness, medical, disability, accident, death, vacation, and unemployment benefits, depending on the company and the type of plan the employee is provided with.
On average, employers in Singapore spend around S$361 per case and S$5,448 every year per employee when it comes to medical claims. 79% of such claims are fully claimable, while 21% share the costs of the medical bills with their employees. Employee welfare benefits can add up to a lot, but businesses can reduce costs if they look into working with freelancers. With contract-based contractors, businesses only need to pay out the agreed-upon fee that was negotiated.
The cost of hiring a permanent employee is approximately 25% that of a freelancer so companies should weigh their options carefully to determine which would be more suitable for their circumstances.
Accessing new pools of talents
There is no shortage of freelance websites and some are more well-known than others. Such websites include Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer.com. Many of these websites offer a variety of services that anyone can choose from. Employers can put up job postings and hire experts to handle projects or browse through the websites to see which freelancers would be best suited to outsource work to. Common categories featured on freelance websites include graphic design, social media management, video editing, content writing, and SEO among many more options.
One common reason for outsourcing jobs to freelancers is the specialization and expertise they have. A business might not necessarily have the specialized skill set required for a particular job or project and may hence see fit to invite a freelancer with more knowledge regarding the subject matter to work with them.
Meanwhile, here at Ravenry, we have a team of expert researchers and analysts that help firms handle the writing and research aspects so that they focus on aspects of the business.
Our writers tailor newsletters, articles, and whitepapers to your brand and ensure that each one is well-researched and SEO-friendly. Analysts at Ravenry specialize in producing research reports that allow companies to stay ahead of their rivals while helping them to identify new trends and have a deeper understanding of contemporary markets. This can be immensely helpful to firms, especially smaller ones, in freeing up their capacity and allowing them to focus on higher-value work at hand.
To get started, Ravenry first helps businesses pick out freelancers that fit their projects and requirements in less than 24 hours. This increases time efficiency, allowing businesses to roll out fresh articles or assess research reports quickly. Ravenry’s focus on writing and research also ensures the freelancers we work with are highly specialized and that the content produced by them will be top-notch. Before sending out articles and reports to our clients, Ravenry vets each piece thoroughly to ensure that our clients are receiving work of the highest quality.
While the concept of contracted workers itself is not new, it has been gaining prominence due to a shift in demand for more specialized labour that is capable of handling high knowledge tasks that might otherwise be harder for a business to handle. The pandemic has spurred many people to take on freelancing and earn some extra cash on the side by offering their skills to others who are interested in hiring on-demand.
As such, companies should consider if hiring freelancers would be beneficial to their company. To make sure they can reap the benefits of permanent employees and freelancers, they can consider a hybrid arrangement consisting of both employment types such that certain tasks and projects can be delegated to freelancers with more specialized skills and knowledge.