At Fingerpost we support and deliver projects via a specialized network of freelancers operating within market access and related fields. We assess the needs for each project and compile a team of independent specialists to deliver that project to its highest potential. We understand the value that flexibility brings, and find that this allows us all to work smartly and effectively when it counts. Of course, this way of working leads to some very busy weeks but it also means that we absolutely, without quibble take that time back in lieu: have some extra hours with the children or squeeze in an extra yoga session on a quieter week.
As Fingerpost grows and we continue to evaluate and refine our offering, we have been engaging with more and more freelancers across the globe. However, the increased volume of freelancers on our database has also highlighted a number of inconsistencies and differences between individuals in market access and related fields. Some of these differences can be attributed to cultural practice (how individuals like to work, communication styles etc), whereas others relate to the practical elements of billing for work (rates, how many hours count as ‘a day’ etc). After noticing some of the differences, Cath and I both agreed it would be useful to conduct a survey that would help us identify some of the trends amongst freelancers in market access (and related fields e.g. HEOR, pricing, medical communications). The insight from the survey will hopefully help us to understand best we can support our freelance team and represent them fairly with the clients we work with.
So, in May, we developed an anonymous, 10-question survey to capture data that would address the following research questions:
• What are the minimum requirements to become a freelancer?
• What fees are people charging and what influences this?
• How are freelancers contracting within market access and related fields?
• Why do people leave permanent roles to take up a freelance position within Market Access and related fields?
• What aspect of freelancing could be improved?
A small (n=39) but representative sample completed our survey over the 7 weeks we ran it for. Participation was completely voluntary and anonymous, which relieved any burden associated with processing personal data.
We have now analysed the data and summarized the outcomes into a concise presentation report. Although the outcomes are primarily targeted at informing ourselves and other freelancers within the sector, we’re also aware that the findings may appeal to those currently, or considering, working with freelancers. Here’s a quick taster of some of the key findings from the survey:
· There are no obvious minimum requirements/expectations with respect to level of degree or number of years in a permanent role, prior to becoming a freelancer.
· The average hourly rate was slightly higher for those with a PhD (vs MSc, BSc and job experience), but there was no trend to suggest that a higher level of degree qualifies a freelancer to charge more. However, those with a BSc were less inclined to contract with Academia or Medical Communications agencies than those with a MSc or PhD.
· Higher hourly rates were associated with more years of work experience, as well as pricing, outcomes research and strategic market access/HEOR services.
· Industry and public sector appear to accept higher hourly rates than consultancies and agencies.
· More freelancers actively pursue business with new clients than those who do not, but the frequency of contact is most likely down to personal preference.
· Flexibility and quality of life were the main reasons people choose to move into a freelance position, and flexibility and variation of roles are deemed to be the most enjoyable aspects of freelancing. However, uncertainty (financial/workstream) and lack of interaction were reportedly the least enjoyable aspects.
The survey also allowed us to analyse the average hourly fee charged based on years of experience, type of contracting organization and area of expertise. There were some very interesting findings from this perspective but you’ll have to read the report to find out more!
If you would like a copy of the report, please drop me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Victoria (email@example.com) an email. Anyone is welcome to peruse the findings; just state why you are interested in the email and we’ll pop a copy over to you.
From our perspective the results have been very interesting and, although some of the findings only confirmed what we already suspected, there have also been some other key findings that we weren’t expecting. Overall, the survey has prompted us to change some of the ways we engage with freelancers. Ultimately, we hope this will make our project operation experience better for both the client and the freelancer, resulting in greater transparency and efficiency.