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Why 2017 is the Perfect Time to Make the Leap into Contracting and Freelancing

As the saying goes, a new year presents new opportunities. With new technologies creating new possibilities in how we approach the workplace, there's real potential for contract or freelance talent to make an impact in 2017.

Struggling to find good flexibility and work/life balance in your workplace? Is variety of work a top priority for you? Ticking each of the boxes is hard in a traditional full-time role, but in recent years it’s become increasingly obvious that traditional full-time roles aren’t the only positions on offer. With technological advances giving more people the opportunity to take up contract and freelance roles, as well as enabling companies to put flexible working initiatives in place, ticking all of those boxes is now more attainable than ever.

With demand for these roles increasing and organisations subsequently becoming more open to offering them, there’s no time like the new year to finally make the leap. Here’s why.

You Won’t Be the Only One

Over the past 10 years, mostly thanks to generational shifts in the workforce and the advent of new technology, we’ve seen a relatively significant change in the priorities of employees. In our own research on workforce trends, we’ve found that flexibility and work/life balance are strong priorities for employees. 89% of workers we surveyed stated that they would prefer to work where and when they choose, with. 68% stating that they would consider leaving their current role for a comparable job with greater flexibility.

However, although many are in agreement the end of the traditional nine-to-five is near, 30% of employers we surveyed felt that there was an inverse relationship between flexible working and productivity. With this initial reluctance to get behind flexibility, many employees have decided to take matters into their own hands, and we’ve seen an upswing in people moving out of their permanent roles and taking up fixed term contract positions.

Contracting allows you to take complete control of your career, enabling you to work for who you want to work for, as well as have greater influence over where and how you do it. With flexibility and work/life balance becoming such a priority for employees, it’s not surprising that many people seeking alternative means of employment to match this. Contracting can also be lucrative in today’s talent-short market, with specialist skills commanding premium rates from companies in need, whilst also allowing you to dedicate time to your own personal pursuit.

Moreover, you certainly won’t be alone if you’re going contracting. A massive 41% of employees that we surveyed in our research identified themselves as a contingent worker.

Organisations Are Listening

Although flexible working arrangements are being implemented more and more frequently throughout workplaces, there is understandably still some reluctance from employers in offering these arrangements to their permanent, full-time staff. However, organisations are starting to sit up and take notice of the value of contingent workers. Whether it’s providing specialist skills for specific tasks, or covering for key permanent staff whilst they’re on leave or working on other projects, non-permanent staff can add huge value to organisations.

With the "gig economy” in full swing, some companies are even establishing their own in-house hubs for contingent workers. PwC, one of the world’s biggest professional services companies, recently launched its own UpWork-style marketplace for freelance workers in the United States, aiming to make it easier for them to connect with independent talent. Although this may not be helpful if you’re based in New Zealand like us, it does show the intent of organisations to want to engage with independent contractors; even companies amongst the largest and most prominent in the world.

The Power of Technology

A big reason that companies have become more open to the idea of engaging contractors, including those that are based off-site or even overseas, is because of how technology has enabled for them to be integrated into the workforce more effectively. We often take it for granted, but we now live in a world where we can instantly exchange messages with someone on the other side of the world. While for many of us this makes it easier to connect with family and friends overseas, it also makes it easier for employers to maintain contact with employees working from anywhere; essentially making them part of the office without needing to physically be there.

Although it’s difficult to replace actually being present in the office, applications such as Slack, Skype and Trello (on top of regular old emails) can make it far easier for you to adjust to working in a different environment. With the way the nature of work has changed, and the level of support that’s now available, working contingently has never been easier.

How Recruiters Can Help to Mitigate Risk

Although there are many benefits to contracting, it’s often still seen as a risky pursuit. Giving up a stable, permanent role in favour of increased flexibility and freedom also comes with the trade-off of having to manage your career more closely. You’ll need to keep your eye on the market and make sure you’re on top of your finances, managing yourself through periods where you might be between assignments; which can add extra workload and stress.

One way to mitigate these risks is to work closely with a recruitment agency. Recruiters will keep their ear to the ground for you, ensuring you’re abreast of upcoming opportunities to minimise any down-time you might otherwise face in-between assignments. We can also help throughout the whole job-search process; dispensing company specific advice and insights.

If contracting sounds appealing to you, and you’re looking to take advantage of these expertise, feel free to get in touch.

Tags: Contracting
Anita Stefan

Anita Stefan | Recruitment Consultant

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