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Freelance Consulting in 2021 - Trends to Look Out for

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Published:
March 25, 2021
Reading Time:
7 minutes
Leo Saini
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

Shew! 2020 is gone, finally. Let’s hope humankind never has to face such a situation ever again. Now, let’s focus on 2021 with enthusiasm.

In this article, we are going to discuss the top 5 freelance consulting trends in 2021. A lot of these trends are shaped by the pandemic, but some were going to happen anyway.

If you’re a freelance consultant or a company that hires independent consultants, you are highly encouraged to read this article till the end and share it with your colleagues. Let’s rock it in 2021.

Without further ado, let’s begin with the first trend.

1. Remote Working Will Be More Acceptable

This is not only one of the major freelance consulting trends, but it’s also an expected trend for many other professions. Since March 2020, we have all witnessed businesses from around the world adapting to COVID-19. This was the first time ever when the whole world was locked down at the same time, and it taught us how to keep the show going despite being stuck at home.

According to a survey by Upwork, 1 in 4 Americans will most likely be working remotely in the year 2021. The rest of the world is in a similar situation as well. There are many other surveys on the internet that basically tell the same story, that is, millions of people worldwide will work remotely. Consulting is no different. Freelance consultants will now have more flexibility in choosing their location. If you’re an independent consultant, you might not need to convince your client to let your work remotely. Chances are, they might ask you to do it themselves.

"Technology now allows people to connect anytime, anywhere, to anyone in the world, from almost any device. This is dramatically changing the way people work, facilitating 24/7 collaboration with colleagues who are dispersed across time zones, countries, and continents. " - Michael Dell

2. The Demand for Specialists Could Rise

This would have occurred even if businesses were not adapting to COVID-19. Back in the day, the number of categories of consultants was limited. But in the future, simply being a management consultant might not be your best bet. So, the bottom line is: be a specialist in one or two sectors instead of being a generalist. KPMG UK has already created a framework to assess consultants, and in this framework, a consultant’s sector expertise is taken into account.

Well, if KPMG is doing it, others will join the bandwagon, too, and soon, it’ll be the reality for every independent consultant as well.

Strategy consulting, digitalization consulting, marketing consulting, and operations consulting are some evergreen sectors for freelance consultants to specialize in. But even this might change with time (like other freelance consulting trends), and there could be new lucrative sectors to specialize in. Just remember to not try to be a jack of all trades - be a specialist in some, if not just one. Modern business problems are too complicated for one generalist to solve, and that’s why businesses would rather hire multiple specialists, if needed, instead of hiring someone who has a surface knowledge of everything.

3. More Freelance Platforms With a Focus on Consulting Will Emerge

Since we’re talking about freelance consulting trends, we have got to discuss the importance of online consulting platforms. Hiring freelancers from online platforms is nothing new. Businesses have been hiring freelance graphic designers, video editors, website developers, etc. for years now. The concept of hiring on-demand freelance talent through websites has already been accepted by the market. However, one cannot simply find an ex-BCG or McKinsey management consultant with 10 years of experience on just ‘any’ freelance platform.

This is when freelance consulting platforms help. These platforms help businesses connect with highly experienced, top-tier consultants. For example, Consultport is an online consulting platform that has access to over 3,500 consultants, and most of them have worked with big consulting firms and blue-chip companies before. These platforms are very useful to freelance consultants as well because finding new freelance projects can be challenging sometimes, especially during current times when businesses are still adapting to COVID-19.

freelance consulting trends, Freelance Consulting in 2021 – Trends to Look Out for

4. More and More Consultants Will Find Freelance Consulting Attractive

A survey by PwC showed that 64% of millennials would like to work from home sometimes, and 66% want flexible work hours. Even if it wasn’t for this survey, the fact that more and more workers are leaving corporate life to go freelance is well-known anyway. Chances are, you already know at least one person who works as a freelancer.

This trend is highly likely to be seen in the consulting industry as well. A lot of consultants are giving up the usual corporate life and starting to work as freelancers. It’s not uncommon to see LinkedIn profiles that say ‘ex-McKinsey’, ‘ex-Google’, or ‘ex-(Big Firm)’ these days. Maybe consultants want to get rid of the bureaucracy they face in big firms, or maybe they don’t want to be a part of a highly competitive, up-or-out environment. Whatever individual reasons they may have, a lot of them surely are attracted to that flexible independent consultant life.

5. Consultants Could Be Expected to Produce Results With Limited Resources

Of all the freelance consulting trends discussed in this article, this one is likely to be in place for the next few years. The pandemic has really hit the economy hard. Now, more than ever, companies are in need of justifying every penny they spend - whether it’s on equipment, full-time employees or consultants.

If you’re an independent consultant, you’ll be expected to prove that you’re worth hiring, and you might need to help your clients achieve their goals with limited resources. We all might not be in the same boat, but we surely are in the same storm. Until this storm passes, we will all have to steer our boats with care and conserve our resources - companies and consultants included.

Conclusion

The pandemic surely did cause a lot of problems to all professionals. But it has also forced many changes in the way we work. For example, remote working grew due to lockdowns, and such flexible working arrangements are likely to continue throughout 2021. Freelance consulting platforms and freelance consultants are shaping their own trend now. It will be normal to hire consultants on a freelance basis in 2021, given that they specialize in certain sectors and can provide real value for money.