Upwork’s Fourth Annual Future Workforce Report Reveals Accelerated Adoption of Independent and Remote Work Amid COVID-19

As hiring freezes persist and teams become leaner, hiring managers embrace the benefits of remote work and the use of independent talent

 Upwork, the leading online talent solution, released the results of its fourth annual Future Workforce Report, which explores the hiring habits of over 1,500 U.S. hiring managers. This year’s study features two waves of data, surveying hiring managers both prior to and in the midst of COVID-19, to reveal how the pandemic has impacted the hiring landscape. The key findings show just how quickly COVID-19 has accelerated the already rising trend toward a more flexible and remote workforce.

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The first wave of research, conducted in November 2019, found that talent scarcity and access to in-demand skills were among the top challenges for hiring managers. Then the COVID-19 crisis hit the U.S., further compounding this difficult hiring landscape. The second wave, conducted in April 2020, revealed this as nearly half (45%) of organizations froze hiring and another 39% of hiring managers laid off employees or expect to in the future.

With leaner teams and continually evolving business needs, Upwork’s research found that hiring managers have increasingly turned to independent professionals in an effort to quickly access highly-skilled quality talent and have the ability to scale up or down teams more cost-efficiently. As a result of COVID-19, nearly half (47%) of hiring managers are more likely to hire independent professionals in the future than they were prior to the crisis.

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“Companies are just beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to the advantages of having a more remote, dynamic workforce,” said Hayden Brown, President and CEO of Upwork. “COVID-19 marks the turning point for how hiring managers holistically think about their workforce and embrace the benefits of having more flexible teams. In lieu of traditional hiring strategies and fully on-site teams, the most effective companies will blend full-time employees and tap into the specialized, in-demand skills from a flexible and remote workforce.”

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