Fifty-eight percent of small businesses cite workers’ demand for flexibility as top driver for embracing agile teams

Small businesses predict over a third of employees will work remotely in the next 10 years

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., April 30, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Upwork, the largest global freelancing website, in honor of National Small Business Week, released new data that reveals the majority (58 percent) of small businesses are embracing agile workforces due to “greater interest among workers for flexible work arrangements.” The data is a specific cut of results from small business respondents to Upwork’s Future Workforce Report, which explores U.S. business hiring.

“Record low unemployment is putting enormous pressure on businesses to explore new ways to find and engage talent,” said Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork. “As the biggest driver of job growth in the U.S., small businesses are on the leading edge of workforce innovation.  Innovative businesses are realizing that the only sustainable way to grow is by accessing the right talent and technology. As workers seek out more flexible work arrangements, businesses are embracing a flexible workforce to fill skills gaps and scale their teams.”

Top findings include:
  • Small businesses are embracing flexible talent -  Over half (53 percent) of small businesses today are utilizing flexible talent, including freelancers, agency and temp workers -- up 16 points from 2017. They anticipate work done by flexible talent will increase by 20 percent in the next 10 years.
  • Small businesses plan to increase headcount - The majority (67 percent) of small businesses plan to increase their worker headcount in 2018, while only nine percent expect a decrease. Headcount is expected to increase by 15 percent in 2018.
  • Skills have become more specialized -  Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of small businesses agree that skills have become more specialized compared to three years ago.
  • Hiring is a challenge - Twice as many small businesses say hiring was harder in 2017 than easier. Sixty-three percent of small businesses cite “access to skills” as their top hiring challenge.
“I encourage small businesses to think beyond traditional hiring methods to find the talent they need to scale and grow,” said Xan Hood, founder and CEO of Buffalo Jackson Trading Company. “Thanks to technological advancements, we now have access to a vast pool of industry experts with specialized skills that can help drive the business forward. The ability to reach out and find experts in areas from development to fashion design is unprecedented. You can build a team with some of the best and brightest by embracing flexible talent.”

Sustaining long term growth with an agile, remote workforce

Small businesses are embracing a remote workforce
The majority (60 percent) agree that remote work has become more commonplace compared to three years ago. Sixty-seven percent of small businesses have someone on their team who works a significant portion of their time remotely, up 13 points from last year.

Remote work is here to stay
Small businesses were three times more likely to agree than disagree that offices will serve as occasional anchor points rather than daily travel destinations. In the next 10 years, small businesses predict that 35 percent of their employees will work predominantly from remote locations.

Agile teams will become the new normal
A vast majority (86 percent) of small businesses have made progress in developing a more agile, flexible talent strategy. Six times (63 percent) as many small businesses agree dynamic team structures will become the norm than disagree.

About Upwork’s Future Workforce Report

The report was conducted by independent research firm Inavero. This is the second year the survey has been conducted. More than 1,000 U.S. hiring managers, including over 200 small business managers, were surveyed through a third-party, independent online sample between November 8, 2017 - November 15, 2017. The study has an overall margin of error of ±3.09 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.

About Upwork

Upwork is the largest global freelancing website. It enables businesses to find and work with highly skilled freelancers. As an increasingly connected and independent workforce goes online, knowledge work — like software, shopping and content before it — is shifting online as well. This shift is making it easier for clients to connect and work with talent in near real-time and is freeing professionals everywhere from having to work at a set time and place. Our company’s mission is to create economic opportunities so people have better lives.

Upwork is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., with offices in San Francisco and Chicago. For more information, visit our website at, join us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

About Inavero

Inavero is a global leader in human capital management research. The firm powers satisfaction and thought leadership studies for hundreds of top firms within the space and leverages more than 300,000 survey responses annually to provide insight into the millions who work in the gig economy and the companies who hire them. For more information, visit


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