These days, freelancers are not odd jobbers waiting to get into full time work, they prioritise control over their life and the ability to work on different projects. That’s why they are often reported to have a better work life balance than full time employees. A better work life balance means happier workers, which tends to lead to better output.
One of the main costs for businesses is recruitment and staffing. In the last few years many businesses in the Middle East had to lay off employees to counter the effects of the economic downturn. In some service industries, where headcount is related to amount of clients on the books, the cost of continually recruiting and laying off full time employees can be quite expensive. Replacing an employee has been estimated as costing 150% of that persons wage. Another factor impacting cost is the high expatriate population especially in the UAE, as expats tend to return home after a few years.
Thus, using freelancers seems to be a perfect fit for firms in the region. It allows companies to benefit from dynamic resourcing, quickly tapping into expertise when business is good, and limiting liability and cost when business slows down. It also solves the problem of a continuous churn of expats who, according to a recent Hay Group study, are 8% less likely to stay in their current jobs compared to the global average (UAE sample).
In addition, many global firms are rapidly entering the Arab market. The cost of setting up business is still high compared to other cities and quick growth is required. This often results in a high demand for digital talent, marketing and creative skills in addition to bilingual staff, as our Q1 2013 figures suggest.
Business growth is not being matched by a similar growth in skill pool, so smart businesses will look to find alternative ways of sourcing expertise in order to succeed. Up until now there has been little clarity on using freelancers from a business operations and HR point of view, a legal standpoint or general media support. There also hasn’t been a formal platform where freelancers can register their skills and employers can post their requirements.
Nabbesh.com is solving the platform problem. The laws in the UAE (typically stricter than those in Levant ) have been changed since 2010 in favour of promoting more flexible work. It is now up to companies to look to their HR department to deliver more efficient hiring practices and embrace the concept of using freelancers as a competitive edge.