Illustration: Rahul Awasthi
Illustration: Rahul Awasthi

Demand for freelance jobs is on the rise as organisations get increasingly used to virtual workplace and remote working, and some also look to cut fixed employee costs post the Covid-19 outbreak.

Flexing It, a gig platform for freelance and project-based work, said there was a 75% spike in the number of freelance positions published in April, while HR technology solutions firm PeopleStrong estimates that 25-30% of workforce in sectors such as internet business companies, IT, ITES, startups, hospitality, quick-service restaurants (QSR), retail and logistics will get converted to freelance roles over a period of time.

“Our platform has seen a spike in demand for skilled independent consultants and freelancers, with top-tier strategy, technology and marketing skills most in demand,” Chandrika Pasricha, founder and CEO of Flexing It, told ET.

Large companies in sectors such as IT and IT-enabled services, FMCG, pharmaceuticals, education, professional services, and consulting are now looking at utilising freelance talent more than before, industry executives said.

Such a move would bring down recurring employee cost since payment would be made project based, provide the advantage of flexible staffing based on business needs, and help companies widen their talent pool into different regions and geographies, they said.

“Companies are now much more used to having a virtual workforce, and traditional boundaries between full-time employment and freelancers will blur,” said Richard Lobo, executive vice president and HR head at Infosys. “At Infosys, we have been using freelance talent for quite some time. We use this talent pool either to meet variations in demand or to fill in positions that need specialised skills,” he said.

Companies such as Infosys, Tech Mahindra, EY, Deloitte, and Simplilearn said roles that require niche skills and are in demand for a short duration, will transition to gig jobs much faster.

“We hire gig workers for niche or scarce legacy skills, which are not immediately available internally,” said Harshvendra Soin, chief people officer at Tech Mahindra. According to a survey conducted by Flexing It exclusively for ET, the number of remote projects on its platform has doubled after the Covid-19 outbreak, in the past 3-4 weeks.

Also, registrations by professionals on the platform grew by 84% between March and April, which possibly could be a result of job losses, furloughs in organisations, as well as professionals seeking to build additional sources of income, Pasricha said.

Krishna Kumar, CEO of edtech startup Simplilearn, who sees a 50:50 metrics for full-time and freelance workforce going ahead, said, “It gives better value for money.”

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