The New Work Order is accelerating
From the perspective of high-skilled European professionals, our findings suggest freelancing is emerging as an increasingly attractive career choice given the benefits it offers in terms of autonomy, flexibility and work-life balance. From 2020 to 2021 Malt saw a 39% increase in overall freelancer sign-ups, and a 63% increase in job categories once considered ‘established’ (project managers, agile coaches and business consultants for example). Added to that, as technology continues to transform our world at an exponential pace, freelancers are spearheading the New Work Order as early adopters of remote working, agile collaboration and lifelong learning.
Portrait of a European freelancer
Freelancers across the three markets we surveyed are experienced professionals ranging from 37 years old on average in France, to 43 in Germany. Their motivations for choosing freelancing are largely aligned across markets – ‘independence’ ranks as the primary motivating factor (for 95% in France, 92% in Spain and 91% in Germany), followed by ‘flexibility’, ‘the ability to choose their work location’ and the ‘power to choose the clients and projects’ they care about. When it comes to challenges, ‘negotiating with clients’ is the most commonly identified pain point across all markets (24% for France, 29% for Spain, 28% for Germany). ‘Being paid on time’ is the second biggest challenge for freelancers in France and Spain, whereas their German counterparts find ‘managing administrative tasks’ a greater challenge. However, even with these challenges, the vast majority of freelancers feel happy about their careers, particularly in Germany where 87% of freelancers responded positively to this question.
Freelancers are a highly-skilled, specialized talent pool that can bring value to companies of all sizes
The data suggests SMEs are leading adopters of freelancer collaboration. Having said that, in Germany, 20% of the freelancers we surveyed work regularly with large corporations (vs. 14% for France and 5% for Spain). Being at the forefront of innovation, freelancers can be a source of inspiration for all companies, of all sizes. Upskilling is a major challenge for organizations today, and freelancers are the masters of continuous learning, spending half a day per week on average developing their skills or keeping up-to-date in their field. Freelancers themselves confirm the link, stating that one of the main reasons companies of all sizes work with them is to benefit from their specific expertise.
The Future of Work is freelance collaboration
When it comes to effective collaboration between businesses and freelancers, there are best-practices Malt has noticed, and which are backed up by the data. Providing a clear and structured brief, communicating your company values and the context within which the project is taking place, and embracing autonomy are all major keys to successful collaboration.