Demand for freelancers has increased in India over the last one year as Covid-19 disrupts and changes job profiles. While the freelancing market is well developed and accepted in the West, the pandemic has increased its scope in India now.
According to HR consultants, freelancing existed as an option in a nascent form in the country, but the pandemic has advanced its growth, as even companies are now more willing to add it as a part of their workforce strategy.
With a number of jobs lost since the beginning of the pandemic, an increasing number of talented and specialised people have been willing to work on a freelance basis, which increased their supply in the market. Also, organisations staring at an uncertain business scenario not knowing how the pandemic would unfold were looking to keep their cost structures flexible, and having a certain portion of human resource on a freelance basis fit in well.
Aditya Narayan Mishra, CEO, CIEL HR Services told FE that due to the pandemic, organisations had to redo their supply chains, digitise processes, sales processes had to be brought online and areas like cloud technology and cyber security became important. However, these jobs were mostly project-based. “Once it is done, it is done, and those people are not needed anymore. So, this is how the genesis of freelancers in the lockdown started. Now, having experienced that even some specialist jobs can be done by freelancers, the companies are persisting with freelancers as a part of their workforce strategy,” he said.
Supratik Bhattacharya, chief talent officer, RPG Group concurred with the view as he said, “We will increasingly see gig workers and freelancers in our workforce. Organisations have started to look at this option with a lot more openness than before. Besides enhanced flexibility on both sides, this is bound to offer even improved and/or higher quality delivery. We’ve been using services of specialist freelancers at RPG for a while now, in different areas and functions, and we see immense value in this approach”.
According to Mishra, freelancers give organisations a lot of flexibility as well as access to expertise. “Flexibility comes in terms of number of hours that they work, period of time and engagement, while not compromising the expertise that they bring with them,” he added.
Numbers support the trend too. Jobs portal platform Indeed, analysed the freelance job market in India between January 2019 and 2021 revealing that there is a 22% jump in hiring in January 2021 compared to January 2019.
As the pandemic disrupted the job market compelling organisations to restructure their workforce, data on Indeed shows that postings for freelance jobs spiked seeing a near two-fold increase between May and June 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. With the implementation of work-from-home structures, job search activity post March 2020 was consistently higher than pre-pandemic levels, peaking in April 2020. However, at any point in time, freelance job postings have outstripped freelance job searches, the findings suggest.
Sashi Kumar, managing director, Indeed India, observes that changes in the external job environment and the added flexibility of work-from-home, has significantly improved the attitude of the employer and job seeker towards freelance jobs. “In addition to optimising productivity, freelancing provides a sense of ownership and creative freedom that are sought after, especially by the younger, more agile workforce,” Kumar said.
Freelancers are getting opportunities across industries and profiles, with IT industry and IT roles across industries being the most in demand.
Digital roles like cybersecurity and cloud technologies across industries also command a good traction. Even services companies, like HR firms are increasingly taking their services for recruiting and staffing, while freelancers are in demand for finance, sales and marketing roles as well. The top five paying freelance jobs according to Indeed are Php developer, recruiter, business development executive, content writer and digital marketer.