About 89 per cent of professionals across the Middle East and North Africa region plan to do more freelance work in 2023, as demand surges for their services and employers seek cost-effective ways to deliver projects within tight deadlines, according to a survey by jobs portal Bayt.com.
The biggest motivations for taking up freelance work include earning extra income, exploring more career opportunities and learning new skills, Bayt.com said.
The survey, conducted from December 4 to January 6, polled 2,375 professionals and employers from 18 Mena countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.
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“Freelancers are one of the fastest-growing segments in the Middle East market and this has been boosted by the pandemic,” said Ola Haddad, director of human resources at Bayt.com.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak, employees around the world have been leaving their jobs at much higher rates than normal, in what has been called The Great Resignation.
This comes as they seek a better work-life balance and more flexibility with their jobs, with many turning hobbies into viable career options as freelancers or small business owners.
The fastest-growing industries for Mena freelancers in 2023 include digital marketing, information technology, customer service and graphic design, the Bayt.com survey found.
Employers in the region believe there are multiple benefits to hiring freelancers, with 44 per cent of respondents to the survey saying they are better at delivering within tight deadlines.
Twenty per cent of those polled said freelancers are a good option for contingency planning between hires, 18 per cent said they are a cost-effective option and 17 per cent believe they provide extra help for small teams and departments, the survey found.
Meanwhile, 36 per cent of respondents said time management was a top skill required by freelancers, 24 per cent said good communication was needed and 12 per cent cited leadership experience.
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“Eighty-six per cent revealed that their company is planning to hire freelancers in 2023 and 78 per cent say that their company offered a full-time job to the freelancer after completing a project,” Bayt.com said.
“Respondents usually search for freelance jobs on online job sites and professional platforms, social media, companies’ websites and personal networks.”
However, there are a number of challenges associated with freelancing, including a lack of job security, less pay than full-time jobs, lack of extra benefits and fewer chances of receiving a promotion, it added.
Updated: January 24, 2023, 8:54 AM