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About our research

Today’s workforce is evolving. As we slowly move into a post-pandemic world, remote working and contracting are becoming more popular than ever. Driven by the appeal of greater flexibility and work-life balance, contractors are challenging traditional employment models. With specialised skills in emerging digital technologies, these digital contingent workers provide immense value to the changing global market. However, they also are at a higher risk of feeling disconnected and isolated.

We surveyed over 1,700 contractors and freelancers across the globe. Their first-hand accounts make up the data in this report.

This research aims to provide a greater understanding of how these changes are shaping the future of work for IT and Digital contractors and to recognise the challenges they face, what motivates them, and what employers can do to support their professional and personal wellbeing.

Data is accurate as of 3rd August 2021.

Any repurposing of this data must clearly cite Talent. If you have any questions or comments please email

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About the contractors

All of the contractors surveyed are technology and digital experts based across Asia-Pacific, The UK & Europe and North America.

Survey participants identified as working within the following industries:

Public Sector
Internet of Things

Years of experience

1-3 yr

4-6 yr

7-9 yr

10+ yr

1-3 yr
4-6 yr
7-9 yr
10+ yr

Key findings

1 in 4

contractors don’t feel that their wellbeing is being supported

1 in 3

contractors felt disconnected from the wider contractor community


feel connected to their clients' permanent teams and 49% felt that it was highly important.


said that connecting to an employer's mission / purpose was important / highly important.


felt that managing their time / work-life balance was their greatest challenge.


said that professional support matters the most to them


said that flexible working hours / remote working is the perk that matters the most to them


said that a clear purpose / mission was the main thing they need to feel fulfilled at work

Why does this matter?

Over the course of 20 years in HR, I have seen many times the relief that hiring a contractor can bring to an employer. No need to worry about their personal struggles, overseas holidays (remember those?), sick leave or general happiness about their roles. Paid by the hour, they’re there to do the job, make our lives easier and move on. However, this is an assumption I would challenge. In fact, it’s just as important to focus on your temporary workers’ engagement as much as your permanent team.

Why? Because this person accomplishes significant work to your company’s operations, extends your strategy, determines the output of your project and can be your best advocate (or biggest detractor!) in a competitive hiring market. People are a company’s most precious asset, and that includes the ones who are only with you for a short time.

April Marcot, Head of People & Culture - Talent

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About Talent

Talent is a global technology and digital recruitment specialist committed to creating a better world of work for all. From simple beginnings in 1995, Talent now connects thousands of tech and digital professionals annually with a diverse range of organisations.

Talent brings real value to people and organisations by building highly skilled and engaged teams, rethinking technology solutions and improving lives by creating a strong sense of belonging.


of organisations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure

Gartner research


of executives across 27 countries are increasing their use of contingent workers

SAP / Oxford Economics’ Workforce 2020 insights


of the workforce will be employed on a freelance basis by 2027

Forbes Magazine

Global contractor market overview

The global technology market is evolving and growing. As a $5 trillion global industry, it has significant power in both providing opportunity to the workforce as well as rapidly disrupting the international work landscape. The economic impact of COVID-19 has seen many companies place their hiring plans on hold, and demand for contract workers instead is steadily increasing, with Talent experiencing a 38% increase in contractor growth over the past three years.

There are pros and cons to this growing employment trend. The rise of the contractor workforce will have big implications for businesses, individuals and the wider society. Research reveals that contract employees could suffer from feelings of isolation, and both want and need a greater sense of connection and inclusion. Also, freelancers and contractors seemingly miss out on receiving recognition of the important role they play and lack access to benefits and opportunities. Businesses are increasingly learning better ways to look after their contractor workforce and make them feel valued.

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uncover our findings