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2017 Future Workforce Report: How Companies Embrace Flexible Teams to Get Work Done

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With 35% of the U.S. workforce freelancing, companies are thinking beyond traditional employment to build more flexible teams. How are businesses tackling today’s hiring needs? And what’s ahead for the future of work?

This report, conducted by an independent research firm and commissioned by Upwork, surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. hiring managers to show how businesses are adapting to keep up with the rapid pace of change. In just a few years, a third of the skills needed in our workforce will be brand new. Traditional models of hiring no longer provide the agility businesses need to get work done. See how businesses are thinking beyond archaic hiring approaches.

Published in: Business
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2017 Future Workforce Report: How Companies Embrace Flexible Teams to Get Work Done

  1. 1. Future Workforce Report: How Companies Embrace Flexible Teams to Get Work Done February 28, 2017 © Copyright 2017 Inavero, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  2. 2. Table of Contents 2 Topic Page Study Objectives 3 Research Methodology 4 Key Findings 5 How Hiring Managers Build Their Teams 8 How Teams Leverage Freelancers 18 Current Hiring Manager Perceptions of Freelancers 29 Profile of Respondents 36 Appendix 42
  3. 3. Study Objectives Upwork commissioned Inavero, an independent research firm, to conduct a study of workforce hiring in the U.S., focusing on knowledge work, with these objectives: 1. Understand the state of the workforce today and future talent demands 2. Establish a blueprint for the evolution of work 3. Explore how teams are leveraging freelancers 4. Examine new areas ripe for hiring innovation This deck is organized in sections to detail results on each objective. 3
  4. 4. Research Methodology • An online survey of 1,004 workforce hiring decision makers obtained through a third-party, independent online sample. • Data collected December 1, 2016 – December 10, 2016 by independent research firm Inavero. • This is the first year the survey has been conducted. • Overall margin of error of ±3.09% at 95% confidence level. 4
  5. 5. Key Findings 5 1. How hiring managers build their teams • 76% of hiring managers say their success depends on getting access to top talent. • Three times as many hiring managers felt hiring had gotten harder in the past year than those who felt it had gotten easier. Hiring difficulty increased for nearly all roles in 2016. • 63% have someone on their team who works a significant portion of their time remotely. • Nearly half (48%) of companies utilize at least some form of a flexible workforce (temporary workers, freelancers or agency workers). • Two in three (65%) companies plan to grow total headcount in 2017.
  6. 6. Key Findings 6 2. How teams leverage freelancers • Over half (55%) of those who leveraged freelancers last year expect to increase their usage in 2017. • Freelancers are most typically utilized to scale up quickly for a project (56%) or to leverage skills not currently in-house (49%). • Freelancers help get more work done and grow the overall pie by filling opportunities that would otherwise go unfilled. • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of hiring managers believe they use freelancers at least somewhat strategically, yet 77% believe there is at least some room for improvement in their strategic utilization of freelancers.
  7. 7. Key Findings 7 3. Current hiring manager perceptions of freelancers • More hiring managers are satisfied with the skills of freelancers than the skills of their most recent full-time hires. • Top benefits of hiring freelancers are flexibility and access to hard-to-find skills. • Top concerns with hiring freelancers are compatibility with existing teams and fears around accountability. • Yet, just 11% of hiring managers expressed dissatisfaction with these aspects when rating their most recent freelancer hire. • 60% of hiring managers expect that freelancing will continue to increase.
  8. 8. 8 How Hiring Managers Build their Teams
  9. 9. Hiring managers depend on access to top talent 9Q3.6. Please rate your agreement with each of the following statements. (n=998) My Department’s Success Depends on Getting Access to the Talent we Need 76% feel access to talent drives their success
  10. 10. Hiring difficulty has increased for nearly all roles 10 Q2.6. In your opinion, how hard has hiring been this year, compared to prior years? (n=964) 3 times as many hiring managers said hiring was more difficult in 2016 than said it was easier
  11. 11. Trying to Find the Right Talent Stresses me out The average position has been open for more than a month and it’s stressing many hiring managers out 11Q3.6. Please rate your agreement with each of the following statements. (n=987) 50% Feel stressed trying to find the right talent for their team
  12. 12. Many teams have open positions, with product, development and marketing positions open longest 12 Q2.5. Thinking of the specific hiring need you are most familiar with within each skillset, how long have each of the following roles been open? (n=885) 88% of hiring managers have openings on their teams
  13. 13. Location is not an important factor in driving success of new hires 13 Only 1 in 10 hiring managers believe physical presence in office is important to a new hire’s success Q3.7. Please rank each of the following attributes in terms of their importance to a hire’s ability to successfully work for you. (n=899)
  14. 14. Most departments have at least some experience with team members working remotely 14 35% of departments have freelancers that conduct a significant portion of their work from a remote location 56% of departments have full-time/permanent employees that conduct a significant portion of their work from a remote location Q4.10. Do you have any team members who conduct a significant portion of their work from a remote location? (n=985) 63% of departments have remote team members
  15. 15. Technology enables higher engagement for remote workers 15 83% of departments utilize more than one type of technology to engage remote workers Q6.5. Which of the following types of technology does your department utilize to help effectively engage remote workers? (n=146)
  16. 16. 65% Two in three departments plan to grow total employee headcount in 2017 Departments utilize a range of talent 16 Q2.2. Within your department, how many of the following types of workers do you have currently? How many do you expect to have in 2017? (n=865) 48% Nearly half of departments use temporary workers, freelancers, or agency workers
  17. 17. 7 in 10 departments utilize flexible and/or remote workers 17 63% of departments have team members that conduct a significant portion of their work from a remote location 48% of departments of departments use temporary workers, freelancers, or agency workers Q2.2. Within your department, how many of the following types of workers do you have currently? How many do you expect to have in 2017? (n=865) Q4.10. Do you have any team members who conduct a significant portion of their work from a remote location? (n=985) 72% of departments use some combination of temporary workers, freelancers, agency workers and/or remote workers
  18. 18. How Teams Leverage Freelancers 18
  19. 19. Majority of hiring managers who used freelancers in 2016 expect to increase usage this year 19 Freelancer Utilization in 2017 Among Those Who Used Freelancers in 2016 Q2.2. (Those who had freelancers in 2016) Within your department, how many of the following types of workers do you have currently? How many do you expect to have in 2017? (n=293) Q3.5. (All respondents, if more) What is the primary reason you will be using more freelancers in 2017? (n=223) 4 times as many hiring managers plan to use more freelancers in the coming year than plan to use fewer.
  20. 20. Hiring managers find freelancers through a variety of resources 20 77% of managers use more than one resource when finding freelancers to hire Q3.1. You said that you had hired freelancers (independent contractors, solo entrepreneurs, etc) in the past year. Which of the following are ways in which you found the freelancers you hired? (n=155)
  21. 21. Nearly half of hiring managers used online sources to find freelancers in 2016 21 Q3.1. You said that you had hired freelancers (independent contractors, solo entrepreneurs, etc) in the past year. Which of the following are ways in which you found the freelancers you hired? (n=155) 46% used online resources to find freelancers in the past year.
  22. 22. Freelancers most typically utilized to increase capacity or fill skills not currently found within team 22 Q6.2. Which of the following types of situations do you typically utilize freelancers/independent contractors? (n=154) Q4.4. (Those who have hired freelancers both online and through other means) Once the role was filled, how long did it take for that person (freelancer) to be fully contributing to the team? (n=64) Managers reported that freelancers hired via online sources started contributing to their team 40% faster than those hired via offline sources.
  23. 23. Hiring managers leverage freelancers across a wide variety of skillsets 23Q2.4. Within the past year, which of the following types of roles have you been involved in trying to fill? (n=335) Note: Percentages reflect only those that said they hired for each role in 2016 52% of hiring managers who hired freelancers hired them for 2 or more types of roles
  24. 24. Companies favor qualifications over cost with freelancers 24 Companies are 6 times more likely to hire the most qualified freelancer than the least expensive Q3.2. Thinking of the most recent freelancer you were involved in hiring, which of the following was true? (n=156)
  25. 25. 4 in 5 hiring managers report an increase in their team’s productivity due to hiring a freelancer 25 80% of managers report increased team productivity due to a recent freelancer hire Q4.7. How did your most recent freelancer hire impact your team’s productivity? (n=154) Q4.9. You said productivity was increased due to the freelancer you most recently hired. In which of the following ways was productivity increased? (n=120)
  26. 26. Freelancers help get more work done and grow the overall pie 26 84% of departments would delay, cancel, or extend current workloads Q4.8. If you had not been able to find a freelancer to hire for your most recent project, which of the following would have likely occurred? (n=1,003)
  27. 27. Hiring managers most frequently use freelancers for 2 week – 3 month project durations 27 Project Length Q6.4. In the past 12 months, which of the following types of projects have you hired freelancers to work on? (n=151)
  28. 28. 64 percent of hiring managers believe they are using freelancers strategically 28Q6.3. Generally speaking, how strategically do you think your department utilizes freelance workers? (n=999) How Strategically Department Currently Utilizes Freelancers 77% believe improvement could be made 64% of managers feel they are using freelancers strategically
  29. 29. 29 Current Hiring Manager Perceptions of Freelancers
  30. 30. Hiring managers rate skills of freelancers above those of their most recent permanent hire 30 Q4.5. How would you rate your most recent full-time, regular hire on each of the following attributes? (n=959) Q4.6. How would you rate your most recent freelancer hire on each of the following attributes? (n=155)
  31. 31. Flexibility and quick access to hard-to-find skills top the perceived benefits of hiring freelancers 31Q5.2. What do you think are the biggest benefits of hiring a freelancer/independent contractor compared to an employee? (n=875)
  32. 32. Accountability and compatibility with existing team to list of hiring managers concerns 32Q5.3. What are your biggest concerns in hiring a freelancer? (n=869)
  33. 33. Full-time, Regular Hire Freelancer Hire Full-time, Regular Hire Freelancer Hire Yet, few hiring managers express dissatisfaction in these areas with recent freelancers they’ve hired 33 Full-time, Regular Hire Satisfaction with Most Recent Hires’ Team Interactions Satisfaction with Most Recent Hire’s Work Ethic Satisfaction with Most Recent Hire’s Drive & Self-Motivation Q4.5. How would you rate your most recent full-time, regular hire on each of the following attributes? (n=959) Q4.6. How would you rate your most recent freelancer hire on each of the following attributes? (n=155) Freelancer Hire Only one in 10 hiring managers expressed dissatisfaction with their recent freelancer’s interactions with team members
  34. 34. Personal experiences with freelancing change perceptions 34 59% of hiring managers have personal experience freelancing and/or know someone who does Q5.1. Which of the following experiences have you had with freelancing? (1,001) Q5.2. What do you think are the biggest benefits of hiring a freelancer/independent contractor compared to an employee? (875)
  35. 35. Hiring managers are almost unanimous that freelancing is here to stay 35Q5.4. Which Of The Following Do You Believe Are True About Freelancers? (n=892) 60% of hiring managers who have hired freelancers expect freelancing to continue to grow
  36. 36. 36 Profile of Respondents
  37. 37. Respondents represent companies of all sizes 37Q1.1. Which Of The Following Best Represents Your Company’s Total Revenue For Calendar Year 2016? (n=983)
  38. 38. Respondents come from a variety of industries 38Q7.1. Which of the following best describes your organization’s primary industry? (n=1,003) Note: Only ten most common industries are shown
  39. 39. Around half of respondents are managers and the other half are leadership 39Q1.3. What best describes your role in the company? (n=1,004)
  40. 40. Q7.2. What is your current age? (n=997) Respondents span across multiple generations 40
  41. 41. Q7.4. Which of the following best describes your gender? (n=1,002) The gender split among respondents is fairly equal 41
  42. 42. 42 Appendix
  43. 43. This Study Commissioned by Upwork: Upwork is the world’s largest freelancing website. As an increasingly connected and independent workforce goes online, knowledge work —like software, shopping and content before it— is shifting online as well. This shift is making it easier for clients to connect and work with talent in near real-time and is freeing professionals everywhere from having to work at a set time and place. Freelancers are earning more than $1 billion annually via Upwork. Upwork is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., with offices in San Francisco and Oslo, Norway. 43
  44. 44. This Study Conducted by Inavero: Inavero is a global leader in human capital management research. The firm powers satisfaction and thought leadership studies for hundreds of top firms within the space and leverages more than 300,000 survey responses annually to provide insight into the millions who work in the gig economy and the companies who hire them. 44
  45. 45. © Copyright 2017 Inavero, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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