How are you? Pulse 3/2021 vs 6/2020

Survey: Prolonged remote working adversely affects interim managers and freelance experts work

A survey conducted with interim managers and freelance experts found that the prolonged remote working forced on by the Covid19 pandemic has had a greater adverse effect on customer projects at the beginning of 2021 than the previous spring. The pandemic’s adverse effects were identified as restricted interpersonal interaction and communication and as a positive effect the increased work efficiency. The use of interim managers and freelance experts is expected to increase after the pandemic, as companies need required specialist skills quickly and on a flexible timeframe.

The survey conducted within members of Ferovalo, the international exchange of interim managers and freelance professionals, found that 11% of the respondents felt that remote working had become difficult. The change from last year is significant as previously remote working was judged to be easy. This year, for example strategy work was found to be more challenging when stakeholders did not share the same physical space. The lack of visible body language and other forms of non-verbal communication was found to increase the risk of misunderstandings, especially within international teams. Also, messages were harder to get through and presentations and negotiations are deemed more challenging.

In March of this year 81% of the respondents were worried about the economic implications of Covid19 to their own business, whereas the percentage of those worried was 73% last spring. Half of the respondents were working on active assignments during both surveys.

The more positive aspects of the pandemic amongst the respondents was the efficiency of remote working, as commute times have become non-existent and the ability to better concentrate on the task at hand. Also, customers can be reached with ease across geographic areas. These changes have been facilitated by the quick transformation into digital workspaces done by many companies. In the present circumstances, teams are easier to call together and take projects forward with everyone present.

The adaptation to the circumstances evident with the interim managers and freelance experts can be attributed to their backgrounds – they are highly educated individuals who are used to the constantly changing demands of work and have adopted a flexible outlook towards it.

Most of the respondents believe the use of interim managers and freelance experts to increase after the pandemic. The benefits of this were seen to be the ability of customer companies to bring in talent and solutions where it is needed, as a full or part time resource and thus offering flexibility, specialist skills and experience of extraordinary situations that could not realistically be expected of a full-time employee and or which the organization does not possess.

The fast-changing business landscape needs ever quicker actions, which interim managers and experts are ideally suited to tackle, says Ferovalo’s CEO Elina Liehu.

The open questions of the survey found that “freelancers constantly gather experience from different companies and are able to look at the client organization from the outside”. Interim managers and freelance experts are seen as bold actors as they need not heed or involve themselves in the internal politics of customers. As recruitments they are safe as they do not threaten anyone’s position.

The Interim Management Pulse 2020 -survey was completed by 72 experts, mainly from Finland. A similar survey was done in May 2020, with 84 respondents.

The results of the survey can be found here:Ferovalo_210409_pulse_survey