With the COVID-19 pandemic creating so much disruption in employment, independent contractors have seen higher demand alongside increased levels of sophistication around projects. The practice — trending even before the pandemic — has spiked during it.
"[COVID-19] is forcing companies to reimagine the way things get done," David Henshall, president and CEO of Citrix, said in a statement emailed to HR Dive. "Forward-thinking organizations are embracing flexible work to enhance and expand their talent pools in ways they couldn’t previously and to build and acquire the modern skills they need to not just return to where they were, but power their business forward."
To meet this growing need, Citrix partnered with Upwork to allow clients to find, hire and deploy freelancers while also providing them access to enterprise technology. A partnership that started in 2019 with a product focused on onboarding and managing freelancers has expanded to allow employers to post freelance roles and review applicant submissions and profiles through the Citrix platform.
The goal of this new offering is to provide HR, recruiting and workforce strategy leaders with "agility and security" and "accelerat[e] ease of access to Upwork’s pool of global freelancers," so that they can flexibly meet shifting talent needs, Steve Sieron, principle alliance marketing manager at Citrix, told HR Dive via email.
"Long term, the realities of having a flexible infrastructure are going to become a business imperative," Sieron said. "Customers at this point have moved out of the triage phase and many are now migrating to the cloud so they can scale and move faster."
The expansion of remote work plays a role in the value of this solution. Some contractors may have previously worked in a client's office where they were furnished with equipment, including computers that have access to enterprise systems such as a CRM or company intranet. Employers may require fully remote solutions today and are likely to need them down the road.
"The pandemic has really changed long-held perceptions about remote work," Sieron said. "Companies have come to realize that employees can be just as – if not more engaged, productive and connected – working from home. So, I think you’ll see businesses start to look more closely at hybrid work models that allow them to be flexible in how and where they deploy their resources to accommodate business and customer needs."
To accommodate remote work and the expansion of contingent workforce strategies, workplace tech will need to adapt. In some cases, tech policies and procedures may be burdensome or even prevent smooth adoption of new contingent work processes. In this case, Sieron said he believes "companies need to develop strategies to address the new realities of remote work and align their policies and procedures to drive them."