A walkthrough to understand the dynamics of the digital freelance world in Latin America: who freelancers and clients are, how they behave, what their expectations are and how they prepare for the future of the workplace.
Workana conducts this report every year to analyze, reflect and share with the world how these types of jobs are evolving throughout the world. It’s a useful tool for workers, researchers, reporters, businesses and the curious alike, as well as freelancers taking their first steps on this path who want to learn how to maintain job security. Will you come with us on this journey?
Freelancers are comfortable with this type of work and many people, even those who have not done it yet, would like to join in on the idea of independent work and are planning on doing it in the future (whether freelancer or entrepreneur) and therefore begin to explore the different areas and platforms that offer these types of services. There are plenty of these types of web platforms, like Workana.
Although freelance work is mostly solo work, freelancers look for different strategies to develop their skills, mainly by “associating” with other freelancers that complement their skill set and building work teams, or getting training in other areas in order to be able to offer various services. They are proactive in this sense, have a great adaptability, and constantly explore other alternatives to grow and prepare themselves for the technological future.
It's no news: there’s a growing trend in freelance work that is not yet fully integrated into companies. We are living in a transition period. There is an opportunity that consists of building and fortifying ties between freelancers and their clients, or dedicated teams within companies that incorporate them. Companies are on a path of technological transformation, confident they are on the right path, think that this new type of work is growing and hold an optimistic view towards the future of freelance work.
In this context, it’s worth mentioning the ages of freelancers and their clients. While the former is focused on a lower age range (mainly between 21 and 30 years old), the latter is focused on the higher age range (41 and up) which makes up over 40% of clients.
There are 1.8 million professionals registered on the platform that partake in different projects. We
surveyed 2,091 freelancers to develop this report.
From 2012 to mid-2019, there were nearly 1 million projects posted.
More equality. Women encounter freelance work as much as men do.
Young people, ages 21-30, dominate the freelance world, followed by young adults (31 – 40 years old).
Another myth debunked: having kids is not a factor for when people take on freelance work.
The majority of freelancers are still taking their first steps in their professional career: some decide to do it as a full-time career and others as a supplemental part-time job. Still, just a small segment of about 7% of top freelancers make more than USD $1,500.
There is more equality between men and women in the freelance market. Although we still see there is still a greater male presence in areas with higher ticket averages.
Within Workana, there is a large number of users that still do not work as freelancers. The
majority of them registered out of curiosity.
But…what do they think their future will be like?
91.5% of them believe they will start working independently soon.
The majority of freelancers do translation and content work, as well as jobs related to new technology (design and multimedia, IT and coding).
Year over year there are no changes regarding the top-ranking categories. There is a very wide difference between IT and coding compared to the rest of the categories. Moreover, we see new areas of work emerging and looking to find a place in the freelance market: education, investigations, HR, architecture, and more.
Work experience prior to becoming freelancers.
Not being limited to a fixed income and choosing which projects to work on are also valued aspects for those who choose to take on freelance projects, although to a lesser extent.
Many of the freelancers surveyed told us that ownership over their schedule is a great advantage and motivation to do this type of work over a traditional job. However, at the same time it’s also a challenge because, as they stated, it can be messy.
Freelancers prefer to work from home, which is tied to the motivation regarding the management of their own schedules which led them to choose this working method. 86% of those who chose to work freelance in order to manage their schedules work from home.
Freelancers planned to work on the majority of the projects they participated in and hope to take on more projects than they currently receive, taking into account – in addition – they tend to participate in short-term projects (one week to a month).
Freelancers want to partake in more projects overall, taking into account that they usually participate in short-term projects (one week to a month).
Those who view messy schedules as a disadvantage have mainly worked on short projects as well as a small number of projects.
The freelancer population is professionalized and complements its formal education with other means such as books, magazines (58.5%), or courses (34.8%) to continue specialization. However, digital e-learning platforms are predominant when it comes to training, reaching 73% of those surveyed, who all reported a positive experience.
What are the clients/entrepreneurs like who turn to Workana to get their project done?
From 2012 to the beginning of 2019 there were nearly 1 million projects listed on Workana.
Over half of clients started working contracting freelancers less than 6
It’s an increasing trend.
Freelancers are contracted, to a large extent, to complement the work performed by companies’ permanent staff.
I needed external support to focus on company priorities
To get projects done on times
The freelancer can add his/her own ideas and experience which help execute or ameliorate the project
Operating costs tend to be less
To complement the work of internal staff
Contracting freelancers is not part of companies’ daily routines;
60% of them contract freelancers sporadically.
Once a month
Every two or three months
Every six months
There is still a lack of planning for the inclusion of freelancers in the future. This may be because the incorporation is related to the specific, increasing needs (that have yet to be identified) or it may be due to a more “traditional” view regarding the need for a permanent staff (rather than remote).
How long it takes for projects to get completed
Creativity and innovation
A professional’s experience is the most valued characteristic when choosing a freelancer. By contrast, the freelancer’s language is not deemed an obstacle, being the least important characteristic for those surveyed.
The most popular category is IT and Coding (46.8%). It’s important to note that this category represents 18.5% of the freelancers, so these tend to have a higher average.
Finding the right profile and maintaining open lines of communication are the biggest challenges for clients when hiring freelancers.
|Sometimes the same one and sometimes not||75,9%|
|Always the same one||20,5%|
|Always changing freelancers||3,6%|
There is still no strong loyalty to freelancers. The area with the highest percentage is design and multimedia.
IT and Coding
Design and multimedia
Translation and content
Marketing and sales
Engineering and manufacturing
A compelling 97.4% of clients declared that the increase in freelance work over the next 5 years will continue.
Within working relations between freelancers and clients, technology is a large broker and the main driving force towards the future of work. Freelancers seem to be prepared or preparing themselves for the technological future, meanwhile clients, although they say they have gone through transformative processes, consider that only some of their staff members are ready to take the next step. The majority of clients are positively receptive of these transformations.
Practically all of those surveyed (98.6%) believe that technological transformations will generate positive scenarios for their job in the future.
66.4% OF COMPANIES/ORGANIZATIONS SAY THEY HAVE GONE THROUGH A TECHNOLOGICAL TRANSFORMATION WITHIN THE LAST 5 YEARS.
Impact of technological innovation according to how long they have been working with freelancers
Technological impact according to number of employees
Company sentiment regarding technology’s impact on management
Additionally, do clients feel ready to face the technological changes that will take place?
Also, do clients believe their employees are ready to face the technological changes that will take place?
Freelance work was definitely settled in the digital world: practically all of the freelancers surveyed (98%) believe the use of online media increases the possibility of receiving these types of jobs and prefer to work remotely.
One of the aspects of remote work is the type of meetings that it produces.
Those who choose to work remotely also prefer virtual meetings.
The platforms that connect freelancers to clients are part of the digital innovation and the work of the future.
Workana had an incorporation of nearly 55% of freelancers in the last 6 months, attaining new markets and services.
Thank you for joining us on this ride, where we got to know the peculiarities of freelancers, who they are, how they work, what their training and education is like, and their perspective regarding the use of technology and digital innovation. We also got to know the other side of the same coin: the clients. The crosslink of information on both provides an account of the different perspectives of each one as well as the coincidences, from which it’s important to be able to build.
Remote work is here to stay and grow. This type of work is in a transition phase, with optimism towards the future of freelance work and requires an effort between clients and freelancers in which the former act as driving forces of this new work modality.
Freelancers are motivated and excited about living the life they want to live regarding their work, which is a life that allows them to manage their own schedules, choose the projects in which they want to partake, work from anywhere, among other things. On the other hand, clients are grateful for the freelancers’ contributions to their business regarding innovation, experience and ideas they propose from an external perspective which allows them to focus on their priorities.
Part of this challenge requires that freelancers be trained in their area of expertise, taking soft skills into account which allow for relationships with clients to strengthen (for example communication, empathy, positive attitude, good organization, among others). As for the clients, they must understand the peculiarities of this type of work, adapt to the changes themselves and within their organizations.
In a globalizing context, favorable conditions are generated by technological transformation and digital innovation to develop jobs with these characteristics, facilitate the connection between clients and freelancers from different parts of the planet, and develop challenging and creative proposals. It’s a great opportunity that presents itself for the future of work and its impact within the working world.
Who is more prepared for remote work: freelancers or clients? How is this new type of work being adapted to and adopted? We are still in the middle of the journey, and there are only more questions that come up as we continue. Our biggest lesson learned is to do it from the meeting point of freelancers and clients, collaboratively. Workana is here to respond and broker in that space, to promote that dialogue and collaborate in strengthening those relationships. We hope that this conversation goes beyond us and reaches its own dimension.