Over twenty two million Americans lost their jobs in a little less than a month due to COVID 19. It took the Great Depression more than four years to achieve an equivalent level of unemployment.
Millions of freelancers around the world have also lost critical project and consulting work; many clients have closed up shop. Gigsters have struggled to make a living as companies focus on conserving cash, reducing non-essential expense, and planning for an uncertain post COVID 19 world.
So, it made sense to ask freelance platform CEOs and thought leaders this question in our series, the freelance revolution during COVID 19:
What freelance skills / professional specialties are likely to be most in demand on your platform as the global economy begins to emerge out of COVID 19? What guidance are you sharing with your platform members and clients?
Chandrika Pasricha, CEO of Flexing It (India) reports, “We see demand for seasoned strategy consultants to help companies revise plans and market scenarios; digital skills are critical in reaching customers and for business continuity; finance expertise to help plan cash flows and cut burn; HR talent to manage employee morale, and guide how to manage pay cuts/employee separation. It’s an important time for freelancers to assess their strengths, sharpen their skill profiles and think about new products and services they can offer.”
Florent Ogoutchoro, CEO of Thetechguys.io (Africa) notes, “”Since we are specialized in IT and software development, I’ll first bet on those. But I think more generally that there will have more demand for people with digital skills, finance expertise, and business development.”
Seb Robert, CEO of Gophr (UK) mentions, “The demand for home delivery during lockdown has created extraordinary opportunities for couriers and delivery services, especially those that support last mile delivery. Whilst it is not a specialised skill, I think the shift in customer expectations around home delivery created in lockdown will continue post lockdown and remain in high demand.”
Layla Lynn, Co-founder of AceUp (US) adds, “As the economy emerges out of COVID-19, the coaches most in demand are skilled at helping managers to facilitate change, and support them in developing the leadership skills that are so clearly important during this crisis.”
Chris Keene, CEO of Gigster (US) notes, “Freelancers need the ability to work effectively as part of a distributed workforce. No matter how long social distancing is with us, the pandemic has underscored the need for workers to thrive outside of traditional office settings. We’re advising our clients to become adept at managing distributed workforces.”
Edgar Mwampinge, Founder of Worknasi (Africa) tells us, “COVID-19 has forced African businesses to embrace technology. Everyone is learning technology tools, and wants an online presence. Many businesses will reduce workers and automate processes. We advise freelancers to sharpen their skills to prepare for a future which will be different.”
Jennifer Napier, Marketing VP at BTG (US) points out, “Creativity, resilience, and high EQ are demanded for the urgent special projects we are seeing. Skills include supply chain reimagining, rapid workforce scaling and reductions, financial analysis, cost restructuring, and the ability to lead/accelerate post-merger integrations and digital transformation started pre-pandemic. In healthcare /biopharma, we expect all, coupled with industry-specific experience to support rapid analysis and change.”
Mike Morris, CEO of Topcoder and Crowdsourcing Global Head for Wipro (US and India) notes, “The demand spike we’re experiencing is for quality engineers and software developers. As organizations move to home and virtual work settings, the shift to on-demand technical talent is logical and helps organizations stay productive despite the disruption.”
Mac Mabidilala, MD of Pengo Insight (Africa) mentions, “We surveyed our freelancers a few weeks ago. Overwhelmingly, we expect demand for expertise in digital transformation, and in rolling out e-commerce and cybersecurity. Clients are ramping up, particularly those slow to digitize their business models before the pandemic.”
Ashmita Das, CEO of Kolabtree (UK) observes, “The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of credible experts working on the science underlying our understanding of COVID-19. We expect a further increase in organisations seeking help from our freelance scientists, especially epidemiologists and virologists. We are also helping biotech and medical device companies collaborate with experts to accelerate their research and develop products supporting the fight against COVID-19.
Mathias Linnemann, CEO of Worksome (Denmark) says, “This crisis shows companies their dependence on digital solutions, leading to focus on digitalization in education, health, finance and other sectors. IT specialists and project managers skilled at AI, machine learning, and big data will be in high demand. Corporates will move forward with trimmer workforces, invariably using freelancers across the board. We’re helping clients to design more agile and flexible workforces.”
Terry Madavo, CEO of Talent Desk 247 (Africa) reports, “We see demand for software developers, e-learning experts, e-commerce specialists, digital content producers, online security professionals, remote work HR consultants/recruiters and medical professionals particularly in the short term. We are advising everyone at this stage; ensure they have strong online presence.”
Shahar Erez, CEO of Stoketalent (Israel) points out, “Most of our customer base are tech companies, and the prominent freelance hires we are seeing are SDRs and online marketing / lead generation to increase deal flow as the economy stabilizes.”
Mansur Ziganshin, CEO of Pochmak (US) adds, “As the economy emerges from crisis, we expect high levels of project activity. Pochmak connects hedge funds and private equity firms to industry experts. Demand will be on experts who remotely consult on various industries: IT, life sciences, energy, industrials, automotive, consumer & retail.”
Alok Alström, CEO of AppJobs (Sweden) notes, “COVID-19 is giving us all a ‘crash course’ in remotely working through digital tools. The most sought after skill after COVID 19 is teaching people and organizations how to be productive in a new, digital economy. This means “digital transformation coaches” will see a surge in demand.”
Niclas Thelander, CEO of Outsized (Asia and Africa) mentions, “Our emerging markets clients are of a ‘cash mindset,’ prioritizing independent consultants who can help them implement, quick-impact initiatives. We expect demand to grow across all areas because clients must shift from high fixed cost models. Specific skills: digital transformation, process optimisation, AI, innovation, and strategic HR are back on the table.”
Stephanie Nadi Olson, CEO of We Are Rosie (US) reports, “Clients want senior level marketers, who have hands-on experience from top companies, to guide them through projects. We also see demand for marketers who have stood up entire teams (media or creative) on the agency or brand side. Cost savings are top of mind for clients and the ability to in-house alongside experts who’ve ‘been-there, done-that’ is appealing.”
Emma El Karout, CEO of One Circle HR (Africa and Mideast) adds, “We see client interest in preparing for the lifting of restrictions, and supporting large-scale transitions from traditional to flexible work. Freelance HR and agile project managers are needed to help define the future. Scenario planning, modelling and executive stakeholder management skills are in demand. We are asking freelancers to step up their online presence and work on publishing and networking even if pro-bono for now.
Yoann Lopez, CMO of Comet (France) notes, “Likely we’ll see IT workers fired from tech consulting firms and freelancing on platforms like Comet; simultaneously, corporates are accelerating their digital footprint and creating infrastructure to support remote work and new digital products. So, we will see more dependence on tech freelancers to develop these projects.”
Sharekh Shaikh, CEO of CleverX (US) writes, “Market research and private equity customers tell us that debt investments, M&A and capital lending is on the rise, requiring freelance industry experts for due-diligence. We’re also finding demand for HR policy, employee engagement and compensation experts as HR leaders grapple with the impact of COVID-19 on employees.”
Srivatsan Padmanabhan, COO of Go Floaters (India), writes, “Software development, design and content writing will grow. We see freelance sales and customer support picking up momentum as companies shift to variable cost in this area. As remote working becomes mainstream, there’s interest in tools that help employers track productivity; also interest in experts in data/information security, and designing remote work. The remote ecosystem will explode post-Covid. We see massive freelancer demand to help build the ecosystem.”
Rob Biederman, CEO of Catalant (US) adds, “Particularly from C-suite buyers, we see demand for high-value strategy execution work like project and portfolio management, which customers say is increasingly important for orchestrating their remote, distributed workforces. We also see an uptick in demand for supply chain process design and optimization, which is disrupted across different industries. We’re also seeing interesting projects in market research, as leaders try to get more informed about the new economic landscape — and the new opportunities for demand and growth in a reshaped economy.”
Rishon Blumberg, Co-founder of 10xmanagement and 10x Ascend (US) writes, “We will see continued need for cyber security, machine learning and IoT skill sets. But what we’re seeing overall as the economic impact takes its toll on businesses is a downward pressure on rates which I believe will be the norm for the next several years.”
Nitin Kunimmal, CEO of Avvnue (US) mentions, “We expect demand for automation and remote working technologies to ensure business continuity. Technology skills around autonomous warehousing, drone delivery, robotics and 3D printing are in the fast lane to adoption as the current crisis has shifted consumer behavior. Remote work and the demand for critical tools and technologies has renewed interest in freelance expertise in cyber security, privacy and data.”
Hugo Finkelstein, CEO of Riseworks (US) mentions, “We’re focused on design and copywriting. These are in high demand now and throughout the next several months as the economy rebuilds. Businesses will ramp up their digital presence in online sales as well as designers and writers. We’ve put this live demand tool together to crowdsource current opportunities in these fields.”
Bryan Chan, CEO of TheNightMrkt (Singapore) adds, “We foresee companies revisiting how they run their businesses and raise demand for consultancy services as well as digitalization skillsets such as programming, SEO, and cyber security. There will also likely be a surge in demand for marketing related skillsets like design and videography as companies race to recapture market.”
One more thing
Mary Meeker recently reported on the economic and social impact of COVID 19, including the opportunity for freelancers. But, she closed by throwing down this challenge to us all:
“What if COVID 19 serves as a common enemy that unites and serves as a forcing function to:
- Modernize and improve government/healthcare/education driving lower cost and more efficiency
- Improve coordination between government and business for the good of citizens
- Help people find jobs (and training) best suited to their skills and lifestyles
- Promote more considered consumption
- Get back to basics including staying closer to home
- Bolster family connectedness/seriousness of purpose/community/faith?
“None of what we are going through is comfortable or fair. And while things will likely get worse before they get better, has America, perhaps, just gotten the wake-up call it needed to get to a better place.”
Viva la Revolution!