Six out of ten Spanish freelancers believe that the health emergency could be an opportunity for them, by increasing the number of projects in their sectors in both the short and long term. This confidence has its origin, among other reasons, in the increase of projects related to digital transformation, the general paralysis of contracting and the growing demand for agile solutions that increase productivity and save costs by the business network. This is the conclusion of the study ‘Impact of COVID-19 on the freelance sector in Spain’, carried out by the Malt scaleup in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group and which includes the impressions of more than 1,000 independent digital experts in our country.
Despite their optimism, the crisis has also had an impact on the freelance sector, as reflected by the fact that 63% of those consulted stated that at least one of the projects they were working on had been cancelled during the emergency. In addition, one out of four of these highly qualified professionals (32%) claim to have lost at least 50% of their income to Covid-19. Twenty-two per cent said that its effect had been less, affecting less than 25 per cent of their income.
Vincent Huguet, Malt’s CEO and co-founder, explains: “Although the self-employed have experienced a slowdown in their activity in recent months, just before the end of the lockdown we started to see them resume their projects, driven by demand from companies wishing to accelerate their digital transformation projects. Organizations are realizing that, now more than ever, they need the skills and abilities of freelance experts.
For his part, Pablo Claver, partner in charge of the People & Organization team at Boston Consulting Group Iberia, points out that “In a context like the present one, talent planning that incorporates freelance professionals will allow companies to adapt to the disruption of corporate environments. These types of professionals, especially digital freelancers, bring great value to organizations not only because of the agility provided by the flexibility of their work model but also because of their culture of continuous learning to always be at the forefront of the latest trends. This is a pool of talent that invests an average of almost five hours a week in developing their skills. Without a doubt, their participation in projects can contribute decisively to accelerating the implementation of a digital culture and facilitating the adoption of new ways of working. Companies must develop the right support systems and skills to ensure that freelancers are encouraged to develop”.
Tech professionals, the least affected
Although the health emergency has impacted all economic sectors, the study points out that its effect has been somewhat uneven according to the specialty. Experts in tech skills such as developers, DevOps or cyber security seem to have suffered the least impact, with only 42% saying they have been affected. In addition, six out of ten freelance Tech and Data experts (58%) claim to make use of agile methodologies for their projects, a massive use that is well above average and a key virtue in terms of autonomy and team decision-making, even at a distance.
On the other side of the scale, professionals more related to creative disciplines such as communication, design or event organization, have been the most punished with figures between 77% (design) and 73% (communication). The same applies to those professions related to project management (71%), which are closely linked to their development from the client’s own offices.
A sector prepared for teleworking and return after confinement
The freelance sector in Spain today is made up of more than 750,000 independent experts, a growing workforce that has grown by 40% in the last decade in our country. 97% of these independent professionals, whose average age is 40, know what it is like to work as an employee for a company. However, the vast majority (73%) are not willing to return to this working model and are committed to freelancing as a future way of working.
The particular nature of this model, such as the freedom to choose their own timetables, work-life balance or remote working, added to the fact that they are very experienced professionals in agile methodologies, has encouraged most of them (64%) to say that they have done well or very well with confinement. This is because a large part (69%) already worked from home before the state of alarm. In terms of the fluidity of communication with their clients, 64% believe that it has been good or very good, while only 17% consider that quarantine has affected their productivity in some way.
In terms of project reactivation, Malt has also seen a recovery with a 40% increase in project proposals compared to the March and April data. This positive trend has also been seen in the registration of new companies on the platform, which has increased by almost 50% compared to the previous months, a figure that exceeds the average figures for the months prior to the crisis.