LinkedIn's latest survey of small businesses (SMBs) signals an increasing reliance among entrepreneurs on freelance workers.
Reports in Spend Matters on Thursday (Aug. 23) said LinkedIn's ProFinder platform surveyed 1,500 small businesses about their interactions with freelancers. Seventy percent said they have already used freelance workers in the past, and more than half said freelancers have worked for them in the last three months. Even more (81 percent) said they plan to use freelance talent in the future, and 52 percent said they expect the use of freelance talent to increase in the coming five years.
The vast majority also reported satisfaction with the work provided by freelancers and contractors. Reports noted that entrepreneurs are signaling interest in a virtual workforce, which may also contribute to their rising interest in freelance talent.
“Freelancers aren't just completing assignments. They're changing cultures and making businesses more adept at working virtually,” the report stated.
Nearly two-thirds of small businesses that frequently use freelance workers said hiring off-site talent “helps them build their business as a virtual team.” Most entrepreneurs who have hired a freelancer said they did so because of a talent gap within their current teams, though saving on costs like health insurance is another top motivator behind turning to freelancers, according to researchers.
The most popular kind of freelancer is a website designer, with 43 percent of respondents reporting that they hired a professional for this reason. More than one-third said they hired a freelancer for accounting purposes and web development. SMBs in the education sector are most likely to have hired a freelancer in the past, while art and technology firms are also commonly turning to freelancers. Meanwhile, the retail, accounting and finance, and healthcare sectors are least likely to hire a freelancer.
For companies that haven't hired a freelance worker, the most common reason why, they say, is because they simply don't need the extra talent, though one-fifth said the cost of hiring freelance workers is a top barrier.