The outlook is positive for recruitment, scaling businesses and jobseekers with a hiring boom and the trends of remote and hybrid working continuing. At Sonovate, we’ve seen a 46% increase in the average length of new contract placements submitted via our funding platform in June versus January, suggesting that both market confidence and the demand for contingent labour are strong.

According to a report released on Friday by LinkedIn, hiring is rapidly recovering in the UK. Their data reveals hiring increased 7% month-on-month in June, is up more than 92.6% compared to last June and is even exceeding pre-pandemic levels (15.5% higher than in June 2019).

Rise of the remote worker and borderless ‘work from anywhere’ roles

LinkedIn’s report reveals there has been an increase in the number of remote roles advertised on the platform across all sectors in the past year. In software and IT, 23.1% of jobs advertised is now remote, versus 4.2% in June 2020. Even sectors that traditionally had few remote workers have seen an increase such as retail (11.6x) and transportation and logistics (18.5x).

This trend of remote working could be symptomatic of a more significant paradigm shift driven by global digital transformation, rather than a temporary result of the pandemic.

At Sonovate, we’ve seen that this digital shift was occurring even prior to the pandemic, with the rapid adoption of digital tools and strategies to drive more efficient sourcing, management and funding of contractors and freelancers, as well as using tech-driven finance to fuel the expansion of scaling recruitment businesses, consultancies and labour marketplaces, and using automation to streamline operational processes.

The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change’s report released last month refers to remote, knowledge-based jobs as ‘anywhere jobs’ and examines how these jobs are increasingly being separated from specific geographies, which is part of the ‘next wave of technological transformation’. The report predicts that this trend will continue, with businesses hiring more skilled remote workers to reduce overheads, increase productivity and recruit from a deeper pool of global talent.

It estimates that 18% of all jobs across the UK could be at risk of being outsourced or offshored, potentially affecting 5.9m jobs including in IT and financial and professional services, one third of which are in London and the South East.

According to the report, most employees would like to work remotely at least two to three days a week post-pandemic. Similarly, companies are reimaging how they work, using tech to transform their organisational structures and digital infrastructure to enable hybrid and remote working. According to ONS data cited, 58% of businesses want to continue with increased homeworking to cut overheads – especially expensive city-centre offices.

Every challenge presents an opportunity. Rather than being a threat, this could actually be a positive and exciting development for flexible workers such as contractors and freelancers.

In response to this report, Contractor UK notes that Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy for the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), said that this could create more overseas opportunities for UK contractors and freelancers, albeit with heightened competition.

Could a hybrid workforce be more productive?

With increased freedom and a mix of homeworking and office working increasingly the preferred option for both workers and companies, it now remains to be seen what the long-term impact on productivity, efficiency and well-being will be.

There is varied debate on this topic – from claims that there are greater opportunities for meaningful collaboration face-to-face in the office and highlighting digital fatigue and burnout from endless video calls, to preferring the flexibility and improved work-life balance homeworking offers.

This month the World Economic Forum highlighted a new study from the US showing how a hybrid workforce could actually be more productive. It references a paper by Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom and Steven Davis from the National Bureau of Economic Research based on interviews with major employers and monthly surveys from May 2020 to March 2021. They predict that productivity will increase and spending in city centres will decrease versus pre-pandemic levels as a result of hybrid working. A reduction in commuting time was identified by respondents as a major force behind this. It also predicts the US will shift to 20% workers being fully remote versus 5% pre-pandemic.

Our news: rising market confidence, Great British Entrepreneur Awards shortlist

At Sonovate we’re encouraged to see the growth of the average length of new contract placements in June versus January, showing there is strong demand for skills and a flexible workforce.

We’re also delighted to announce that our co-founders and co-CEOs Damon Chapple and Richard Prime have been shortlisted as finalists in the ‘Disruptor of the Year’ category in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards held in partnership with Starling Bank.

This is significant recognition of our founders’ and team’s collective commitment to funding the future of work and the contingent workforce with our tech-driven finance platform and services.

We’ve provided nearly £2bn in funding to over 3,000 businesses – from startups to enterprises – in 40 countries to help them grow and ensure contractors and freelancers get paid on time.

We’re actively engaging in debate about the future of work, what this should look like and how we can help support this with flexible finance and tech.

Please get in touch if you want to get involved in this debate and our initiatives or if you want to learn more about we help recruitment businesses, consultancies and labour marketplaces access tech-driven funding and services to scale.