Great resignation in tech: Can online freelance sites help?

The so-named ‘great resignation’ – a noted uptick in personnel turnover adhering to the pandemic – has strike IT departments as hard as any other. 9 out of ten tech leaders surveyed in November last year agreed that the pandemic has prompted their workers to reassess their everyday living priorities, producing retention more difficult.

Some tech workers are turning to on the web ‘gig’ platforms for freelance work. One this sort of system, Worksome, says that 14% of its new joiners experienced left complete-time employment in tech as component of the ‘great resignation’. 

Ought to businesses comply with go well with, and use this kind of platforms to access tech expertise? Online freelance platforms have the two execs and drawbacks for employees and companies alike, but with the character of do the job in flux – primarily in engineering-relevant fields – they could show to be a helpful supply of agility, at minimum in the short expression.

Rising offer and desire for on-line labour

A rising variety of firms are working with freelance platforms this sort of as Fiverr and Upwork to resource labour. According to data from the Oxford World wide web Institute’s On the internet Labour Index, which tracks the range of registered staff and projects from 351 freelancer platforms around the entire world, the amount of work opportunities posted on these platforms day-to-day has grown by around 60% since 2017. The everyday regular amount of new projects posted is presently at its greatest since November 2020.

Considerably of the operate currently being sourced from these platforms is tech-related, the index reveals. The most recent data shows that 38.5% of projects listed on gig perform platforms so far relate to software progress, making it by considerably the most significant category. 

There is minor information to clarify why the volume of do the job sourced from gig platforms is increasing, claims Fabian Stephany, a researcher at the Oxford World-wide-web Institute. Just one possible clarification is that work opportunities are currently being fragmented into smaller jobs that can be a lot more very easily outsourced to a gig system. “The only explanation I could visualize an boost in gig do the job would be that the need becomes a lot more fragmented, with more compact chunks of the similar volume of demand from customers being offered on these on the web labour marketplaces, so that is maybe why the marketplace demand for tech operate is escalating appropriate now.”

In the meantime, the source of computer software developers on these platforms has also grown significantly, albeit inconsistently across unique geographies.

India, customarily the major industry for technological innovation abilities, offers the biggest share of the world-wide freelance software program developer populace, with 34%. A lot of Indian developers have signed up to web-sites which includes TopCoder pursuing the pandemic, Saurabh Gupta, president of exploration and advisory services at analyst organization HFS Exploration, informed Tech Watch very last year. 

By contrast, most European nations around the world lead fewer than 1% to the international inhabitants of freelance program builders, with no visible modify in growth in the past 4 yrs.

The British isles is a single of the exceptions, alongside Russia, Ukraine and Serbia. The world share of freelance developers based in the United kingdom has grown from 1.34% in 2018 to 3.03% very last month, in accordance to the index. Dependent on estimates of the worldwide on the internet freelancer populace, this implies there are all over four million freelance computer software builders positioned in the British isles. While this determine only represents the selection of Uk-primarily based developers registered on freelancer platforms, it signals a substantial and rising talent pool readily available for work.

Are freelancers the vital to tackling the good resignation in tech?

If the great resignation continues to squeeze employers’ access to technology expertise, much more could look at working with gig platforms.

Mathias Linnemann, co-founder of Worksome, argues that traditional ways to recruitment, in which businesses find to hire and retain whole-time staff members, are “outdated” and sick-geared up to the realities of the publish-pandemic labour current market. “Ownership contemplating belongs in the earlier,” he says. “It’s about access imagining now.”  

Though most firms are still wary of relying as well closely on freelancers, he states, some are “rapidly transitioning from a extra common workforce focused on everlasting employees into a hybrid and contingent workforce”. This gives them a “competitive edge by having rapid accessibility to expertise,” he says.

But freelance work is not devoid of its downsides for the two businesses and workers. Even though it can be much less expensive for organisations to outsource specified roles on an on-demand from customers basis, there can be hazards to the high-quality of assignments. On-need employees may possibly also be juggling quite a few distinct employment. 

For staff, the inherent precarity of freelance do the job provides about a complete host of challenges, from involuntary additional time to delayed payments with out any type of redress. Only 42% of respondents to the Worksome survey claimed they gained their payment on time in preceding careers.

In the meantime, gig work platforms these kinds of as Uber and Deliveroo have been related with ‘algorithmic management’, in which the allocation and evaluation of work is automated. Critics argue that current types of algorithmic administration guide to overwork and dehumanise personnel.

In Europe, much better authorized protections for freelancers are in the performs. In December, the European Fee published a proposal that, if passed, would classify freelancers as workers if particular standards are met. This would provide freelancers with the identical degree of security as standard entire-time workers in most situations. Previous calendar year, the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that Uber’s drivers are ‘workers’, this means they have some work protections, if not all those afforded to whole-time staff members.

In the wake of the pandemic, even the quite close to potential of work is challenging to predict. Workforce are reassessing their job aims at a time when automation is switching how get the job done is shipped. Regardless of what its viability as a extended-expression system might be, applying online freelance platforms may help tech leaders reply to the coming turbulence in the shorter expression.

Homepage graphic by SeventyFour/iStock

Data journalist

Afiq Fitri is a data journalist for Tech Monitor.