Freelancers across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are now experiencing a surge in demand, a new survey has revealed.
A total of 88 per cent of respondents plan to do more freelance work this year, Bayt’s 2021 Freelancing in the MENA survey, covering 4,296 respondents from regional countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Yemen and others, suggests.
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 per cent), flexibility (23 per cent), better work-life balance (22 per cent) and reduced stress levels and improved health (5 per cent),
The biggest reasons leading to the surge of freelance work include earning extra income (55 per cent), learning new skills (24 per cent), practicing what they like (11 per cent) and the ability to control their work schedule (7 per cent).
According to the survey, outsourcing work to freelancers presents multiple benefits as they are better at meeting tight deadlines (52 per cent), while hiring freelancers is cost-effective (17 per cent). Furthermore, freelancers are good for contingency planning between hires (16 per cent) and they provide extra help for small teams or departments (15 per cent).
A majority of survey respondents say that their company outsources work to freelancers to a great extent (47 per cent) and to some extent (19 per cent), whereas only 17 per cent say that their company does not outsource work to freelancers.
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.”
In 2020, professionals were forced to adopt remote working, triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and mitigating protocols that resulted in social and professional distancing. 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 notwithstanding the location of the worker. Top skills freelancers must have, include time management (43 per cent), communication skills (21 per cent), ability to market themselves (19 per cent), leadership (10 per cent) and attention to detail (7 per cent).
Furthermore, freelancers search for jobs on online job sites and professional platforms (72 per cent), social media (12 per cent), companies’ websites (8 per cent) and personal networks (4 per cent). Freelancers also landed work gigs relatively easy, with 40 per cent finding work in less than a week, 13 per cent in less than a month, 10 per cent in between two to three months and 20 per cent in more than three months.