A new survey by Bayt.com, the Middle East's #1 job site, revealed that freelancers across the region are now experiencing a surge in demand.
The 2021 Freelancing in the MENA survey aimed to gather opinions from the increasing number of skilled workers who are jumping on the freelance bandwagon. The biggest motivations for taking up freelance work include earning extra income (55%), learning new skills (24%), practicing what they like (11%) and the ability to control their work schedule (7%).
MENA professionals are seeking a more flexible lifestyle, with greater independence and fresh business opportunities. According to the respondents, the best aspects of freelancing include exploring more career opportunities (50%), flexibility (23%), better work-life balance (22%) and reduced stress levels and improved health (5%).
Ola Haddad, Director of Human Resources at Bayt.com said: “Our new survey highlights the key driving forces that have led to shifts in the MENA’s freelancer workforce. Respondents agree that the flexibility and opportunity associated with freelancing is increasingly appealing and that is why we’ve seen such dramatic growth in the number of people choosing to freelance in the region. Bayt.com remains committed to connecting freelancers and businesses to help them grow in today’s digital world.”
As technology continues to advance, companies and businesses worldwide are quickly adapting to working online, ultimately attracting more remote talent. A majority of survey respondents say that their company outsources work to freelancers to a great extent (47%) and to some extent (19%), whereas only 17% say that their company does not outsource work to freelancers.
According to the survey, outsourcing work to freelancers presents multiple benefits for the company as freelancers are better at delivering within tight deadlines (52%) and hiring freelancers is cost-effective (17%). Furthermore, freelancers are good for contingency planning between hires (16%) and they provide extra help for small teams or departments (15%).
The survey clearly shows that freelancing is experiencing a real surge as both talented professionals and businesses turn to this mode of work in greater numbers. A whopping 60% of survey respondents strongly agree and 20% somewhat agree that the demand for freelancers has increased in the past year. In fact, 88% of respondents plan to do more freelance work this year.
In 2020, professionals found themselves impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic, which caused lockdowns and forced many employees to work entirely remotely. Freelancing not only provides an income boost, but also more freedom over one’s working and employment conditions, with the ability to choose projects and create a greater work-life balance no matter where they’re located. Respondents outlined the top skills freelancers must have, which include time management (43%), communication skills (21%), ability to market themselves (19%), leadership (10%) and attention to detail (7%).
Nonetheless, professionals are increasingly building flexible careers on their own terms, based on their passions, desired lifestyles and access to a much broader pool of opportunities than ever before in history. The survey revealed that freelancers search for jobs on online job sites and professional platforms (72%), social media (12%), companies’ websites (8%) and personal networks (4%).
Interestingly, it does not take long to find freelance work when professionals look online – with 40% finding work in less than a week, 13% in less than a month, 10% in between two to three months and 20% in more than three months.
Companies in many sectors are facing fast-moving challenges in this digital world and they have to scale quickly in a way they may have not done before. That’s where hiring freelance talent comes in. But freelancers are not without their own challenges, which include lack of job security (68%), less pay than full-time jobs (13%), fewer chances of receiving a promotion (11%) and lack of extra benefits (8%).
Data for the 2021 Freelancing in the MENA survey was collected online from December 20, 2020 to February 15, 2021. Results are based on a sample of 4,296 respondents from countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Sudan among others.