23 June 2021

Future of work: flexible, hybrid and tech-driven

As offices have begun to reopen and consumer confidence gradually returns, we find ourselves navigating a transformed reality – with optimism about a rebounding economy and jobs market, and caution about lifting restrictions too quickly.

As reported by the Institute for Employment Studies this month, ONS data suggests the jobs market is showing strong signs of recovery, with PAYE employment growing by nearly 200,000 in May, vacancies close to their highest ever level and the quarterly unemployment rate down to 4.7%. KPMG’s June UK Economic Outlook report highlights a rapid pick-up in hiring across the UK.

At Sonovate we have seen the digital transformation of recruitment and rise of contractors and freelancers pioneering flexible ways of working, even prior to the pandemic. Tech has quietly been reshaping the future of work – from enabling recruiters to prospect businesses and source candidates, to streamlining hiring and people management, business financing, timesheets and payments.

With the rise of a hybrid approach to work and flexible workers, the future of work we once envisioned is now a reality. The CIPD’s report on embedding new ways of working post-pandemic reveals that 40% of employers expect more than half their workforce to work regularly from home after the pandemic has ended (versus around 5% prior to COVID-19 according to ONS data).

The HR Director’s recent survey of UK HR professionals shows the pandemic has also been a catalyst for HR tech adoption and use, enabling the rapid shift to remote working, facilitating remote hiring and onboarding, and keeping remote employees and contractors engaged and connected.

The pandemic prompted more than 227,000 UK workers to apply as freelancers last year, up 60% versus the previous year according to a PeoplePerHour survey. This is a lasting trend, with 97% planning to continue freelancing. Jon Younger reports in Forbes that the pandemic has driven global growth in remote freelance work, fuelled by freelance platforms. He writes about Contra’s report released this month and how these platforms are driving a new model of “internet-powered entrepreneurship”.

Tech will play an increasingly critical role in recruitment, freelancing, contracting and financing strategies in our new hybrid approach to work. We predict the next stage will involve connecting these disparate systems, processes and data. Taking an integrated, tech-driven approach – leveraging AI, data and automation – will increase efficiency, extract intelligence and provide actionable insights.

This will provide a better user experience and save valuable time – for businesses and workers. Just as individuals now expect work to adapt to their lives and habits, they will expect recruitment and funding tech to be frictionless, connected and centred around their needs.

Record-breaking funding, future unicorn, fintech awards finalist

We’ve helped support businesses – from startups to enterprises – during the pandemic by providing access to simple, fast, flexible invoice finance. As reported by AltFi last month, Sonovate had a record-breaking March with £55m in funding for businesses. In the 12 months from March 2020 Sonovate provided more than £500m of funding to keep the contract labour market moving.

Sonovate has also been identified as a future unicorn in an independent report from the UK Government’s Digital Economy Council and Dealroom.co. As Insider Media noted, Sonovate could become the first Welsh fintech unicorn – an exciting accolade.

The passion and forward thinking approach of our team and the businesses we work with have made this possible. It’s a tribute to them that Sonovate has been shortlisted for several awards this month:

We provide tech-driven business finance and back office services for thousands of recruitment agencies, freelance marketplaces, consultancies and other businesses that engage contractors and freelancers, helping ensure people get paid in full and on time. Sonovate has now provided over £2bn of on-demand funding, enabling more than 3,000 businesses in 41 countries to grow and ensuring 25,000 independent workers get paid.

To find out more about our flexible funding solutions and consult our team of experts, please get in touch.