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Summary:

At Net:Work Gene Zaino of MBO Partners made a bold prediction: Independent workers will be a majority in the U.S. by 2020. Can the same be said in the UK? A new survey offers evidence that at British small businesses freelancing is on the rise.

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At Net:Work last December Gene Zaino, the president and CEO of MBO Partners, made a bold prediction based on his firm’s research: Independent workers will be the majority in the U.S. by 2020.

Whether Zaino’s estimate of exactly when freelancers and independent professionals will outnumber regular employees proves correct, the general trend toward a rise in the number of independent workers is hard to deny. Online platforms connecting these pros to contract-based work are flourishing, and media chatter about the so-called “gig economy” is growing steadily louder. But is what is true in America also true abroad? Are other countries experiencing the same rise in the percentage of workers going independent?

A new piece of evidence suggests that freelancers are a growing part of the economy in the U.K. as well, at least when it comes to the small-business sector. Online labor platform PeoplePerHour.com recently polled 1,300 British small businesses about their use of freelance talent. The survey found:

  • Eighty percent of responding businesses said freelancing had become more common in the UK small-business community over the past year.
  • Thirty-two percent of respondents had started using freelancers for the first time in the past six months.
  • Forty-one percent of respondents planned to increase freelance hiring over the next 12 months, compared with 16 percent who plan to hire more in-house staff.
  • Thirty-three percent reported they now use freelancers on a weekly basis.

The release accompanying the survey also points out that the trend has been good for PeoplePerHour specifically, with total registered users doubling from 120,000 to more than 240,000 over the past year.

The technology changes that are enabling businesses in the U.S. to take advantage of independent workers are just as present in the U.K., as are strong economic pressures on businesses to cut costs and maintain agility, so the findings are hardly surprising. Nonetheless, the survey is interesting as a confirmation that these trends are affecting workers and organizations across the Atlantic as well.

Image courtesy of Flickr user C.G.P.Grey

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  1. The biggest obstacle to the growth of independent workers in the UK remains Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. As soon as an independent worker establishes any kind of relationship with a company, the tax man starts sniffing around claiming that they are in fact an employee, which brings with it untold compliance costs and taxation. Changes in this area would quickly stimulate the growth in independent work.

  2. To much uncertainty in the UK economy, has led to companies feeling that hiring full time staff is too risky, especially as in the UK companies are not able to hire and fire as easily as in the US due to employment laws. Freelance staff gives small companies more flexibility. It also appears that the perception that employees have to be chained to their desktop computers is changing and that presence is not a measure of performance. Another good sign.

  3. Darrell Z. DiZoglio Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    This isn’t just happen in the British job market/economy. It is very popular in America and elsewhere too. With the over-supply of workers and a sluggish worldwide economy it is happening all over. I’m trying to change that though one family at a time… http://HowToFindWorkNow.org
    http://HighPerformanceResumes.com

  4. People-to-people Service Marketplace – for skilled relaible professionals selling their skills/services to other people/companies!

  5. http://working-bees.com
    A social network helping people & small businesses to efficiently promote their skills/services. Local skills/services from local people for local businesses!

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