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Freelancing is on the rise but what does this mean for ITSM?

There have been substantial job losses at the hands of the pandemic, but rather than changing career paths or taking lower grade work, people are turning to self-employment. Online freelance specialists PeoplePerHour have announced they’ve seen a 63% increase in freelancer registrations in the last 12 months. So what is it about freelance working that appeals to professionals? And what challenges will this workplace shift present? Here we take a look at how IT Service Management could be affected.

Why is freelancing on the rise?

The obvious answer here is redundancies. Many businesses are suffering due to COVID-19, resulting in loss of employment for thousands. However, PeoplePerHour’s survey found that just 1 in 4 of their newly registered freelancers stated redundancy as their reason for going it alone. And 10% have chosen to freelance as a ‘side hustle’ to top up their income and keep them busy whilst furloughed.

For many, freelancing has been an autonomous choice. The magnetism of self-employment and being your own boss has attracted many, and with just cause! Freelancing offers unrivaled flexibility and control of hours, allowing professionals to work around family and other commitments. And if the pandemic has proven anything, it is that home-working is achievable and you don’t actually have to meet your client face to face. Self-employment also gives people greater control over their finances and can offer a higher income versus employment. With far fewer overheads compared with companies, freelancers are able to work at a competitive rate and still earn a higher wage.

Changes to the ITSM team

The knock-on effects of the rise in freelancers is extensive. Ripple effects of this shift can be felt across various industries, IT service management included. For one, ITSM teams are likely to find themselves working alongside freelancers as businesses see the benefits of employing freelance professionals. This past year has proven just how volatile markets are, and unpredictable environments are driving companies to take precautions.

Opting for freelance workers over permanent employees is considered a sensible move in uncertain times. As well as avoiding potential redundancies further down the line, it has added cost-saving benefits. Businesses can work flexibly with freelancers, utilising them as demand dictates without the commitment of a fixed role. What’s more, self-employed professionals don’t require the perks, holiday payments or pensions that permanent staff do. For an IT service department, choosing to work with freelancers, above all, allows them to access talent when and where they need it.

The challenge which presents itself when working with freelancers is getting to know them, sussing out their skills and abilities. Employing freelancers naturally comes with risk with regard to the quality of their work. With ITIL qualifications you can overcome this. Look for specialists who list one of our industry standard ITIL courses in their skillset and you will know they speak a common ‘language’, allowing them to work seamlessly alongside your team.

Changing customer basis

Depending on your industry, you may well see a change in your customer basis. You are likely to find you are dealing with more sole traders rather than businesses, and this will present new challenges.

Take for example, the IT service desk or help desk; you could see an increase in contact from individuals using your services. Where once you may have primarily dealt with IT team members, you may now find the majority of the time it’s freelance professionals contacting you. Not only will they have different issues and needs, there is a chance they may be less knowledgeable or tech-savvy and therefore require different support. Being aware of this potential shift can allow you to be prepared.

Similarly, for service desk teams, or in fact any area of IT service management, you are likely to need to tweak your communication style for dealing with freelance professionals. As owners of their business, freelancers are bound to be more emotionally invested than employed professionals, particularly if a business-critical issue arises. Again, an awareness of this can allow you and your teams to adapt your communication and service.

Thinking of freelancing in ITSM?

Just as home-working has become the norm, so too has working with freelancers. Businesses are recognising how it can be mutually beneficial to work with self-employed professionals, and so if you are thinking of freelancing within the ITSM field this could be the perfect time.

Our ITIL 4 courses are ideally suited to individuals looking to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in order to gain contracts. Best of all, our e-learning courses can be taken at any time, at your own pace, allowing you to fit learning around your work schedule.