While I haven't been able to determine precisely how many staffing and talent outsourcing companies there are in the world–I'd estimate at least 100,000 worldwide based on numbers I found–the American Staffing Association's 2015 fact sheets indicate that 16 million contract and temporary employees are placed in jobs annually in the U.S. alone. Using my estimation metrics, that is 1.1 billion globally. And we're only calculating traditional, on-site, staffing.
On the freelance side of the global workforce–again using the same estimation formula based on 53 million U.S. freelancers–it looks to be about 3.7 billion. It appears that there are three times the number of people freelancing, both on-site and remotely, as there are being placed on-site in temporary positions.
I suspect the 1.1 billion is, in fact, part of the 3.7 billion. According to the 2015 report "Freelancing in America: A National Survey of the New Workforce" (research by Edelman Berland), there are five types of freelancers:
Exactly how many of these telecommute (go to a brick and mortar weekly) and how many work exclusively remotely is elusive. One 2015 Gallup poll puts telecommuting in the U.S. at 37% of the workforce, but my Google-search prowess failed to identify how many people only work from, say, a home office.
Clearly, we are a world of telecommuters and remote workers, and there lies the argument for staffing corporate, government and not-for-profit initiatives with both on-site project managers and get-it-done-rs, as well as remote support for same. Companies that require their employees to be on-site at least some of the time, and embrace a couple work-from-home days a week, do so because they perceive value from in-office face-time as well as the freedoms that benefit their team members when they don't have to physically commute each day.
At MetaOps, Inc., the parent company of MetaExperts™, we've been leading and staffing Operational Excellence initiatives for over two decades–long before working remotely was possible for most people. Technical support for these teams has long been the hardest roll to fill. Now, even more so because technology lets techies do their magic from anywhere and everywhere.
The values of on-site leadership, team development, process improvement and change management–people connections and alignment towards common goals–will never be replaced by the value of shopping the global shelves of remote support for all that and much more. I expect the next wave of talent resourcing will see all-freelance and traditional staffing company mergers in order to develop placement firms that pre-design on-site and remote freelancer teams that plug and play for their clients. A new industry is born?
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