- The pandemic may have forced more workers to become independent contractors, expanding a wider workforce trend toward more independent work, according to a Dec. 9 report from MBO Partners. While only 59% of workers surveyed said they were independent contractors by choice compared to 67% in 2019, that percentage is still up from 55% in 2011.
- More Americans are calling themselves "digital nomads," particularly in the wake of the pandemic, the report said; 10.9 million workers described themselves as such in 2020, a 49% increase from 2019.
- "Side-gigging" has also grown regardless of income. The number of side-giggers in 2020 is up 51% from 2016, the report said.
As employers look to save costs during the pandemic — and workers scramble to make up losses from layoffs, furloughs or pay cuts — gig work has skyrocketed by some other accounts. GigSmart, a mobile staffing app, saw a 460% increase in hourly gig postings since March, for example. Many of the placements by GigSmart were in construction, food service and warehouses, the November announcement noted.
But the demand for the type of work done by contract workers increasingly includes "skilled labor" including programming skills, coding, web development, social media development and more, according to a quarterly report by Freelancer.com released in May. Such findings perhaps reflect the shift in organizational strategy noted by Gartner in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Gartner, 32% of organizations are "replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure."
New tech solutions have emerged, as well. Citrix and Upwork teamed up to enable more enterprise clients to be able to quickly find, hire and deploy freelancers, due in part to the push to remote work sparked by the response to the pandemic.
"[COVID-19] is forcing companies to reimagine the way things get done," David Henshall, president and CEO of Citrix, previously 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."