It was always going to happen. About ten years ago, we started carrying powerful, always-on computers in our pockets. We started buying devices that were lighter, more portable, less desk-locked. And we saw a transition from work as a 'place you went' to a 'thing you did'. The need to be in the office to do work is increasingly eroded by portability, flexibility and digital connectedness.
It's not surprising, then, that people have embraced workplace flexibility with both hands. One in three New Zealanders are now non-standard workers, either contracted or part time, while almost half enjoy flexible working hours. Yet permanent full-time work still remains the main structure for the working population1.
This trend is reflective of employment in IT and digital technology, with the work scene fluctuating between stability in permanent IT roles and high demand for contract workers. Both options offer a variety of benefits and pitfalls. So which one suits your career best?
One in three New Zealanders are now described as non-standard contracted or flexible workers.
The case for contracting
'Contract' work specifies any non-permanent employment, including job-sharing, flexible hours, working from home and part-time work, with the benefits geared towards improving your work-life balance. By working flexible hours or from home, you can fit into school or social schedules, which means more time with family. IT professionals working part-time have the freedom to pursue other personal or career interests, while working freelance leaves you unrestricted in your use of a variety of digital technology, free of what can seem like restrictive corporate structures.
On average, Kiwis spend 47 hours a week using a smart device2. Unparalleled connectivity, matched by a greater demand for career control, makes contract work increasingly appealing and sought after by New Zealanders. However, it comes with a shifting focus on impermanence – namely, the need to be constantly looking at your own transactional employability.
Contracting and freelancing offer more flexible time schedules, but also require increased investment in keeping gigs lined up and skills up to scratch, while sacrificing security. In short, contracting and freelancing requires a lot of self-belief and a good agent.
Or maybe you'll try permanent
Despite the recent rise in contract work availability, many IT professionals still seek stable and permanent employment opportunities. More than half of those in temporary work would prefer permanent work3. Which makes sense, as it offers stability, security and the opportunity to build expertise with a business. There are also other financial benefits like superannuation and contractual-paid holidays, and a more reliable income stream.
Working within a reputable business can also be a major boost for your IT career, as you can learn new skills while making valuable industry contacts and references. Permanent work also has the advantage of opportunities for natural career progression within a company structure. The continued expansion of New Zealand's IT industry, both in local development and overseas investment, means a high demand for permanent IT workers will remain.
Whether you are looking for career flexibility or stability with a reputable company, we have a huge range of IT and technology jobs to suit. Check out our open roles, or give one of our consultants a call.
1 -Statistics New Zealand 2012 Survery of Working Life, p. 5.
2 -Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Digital Economy fact sheet.
3-Statistics New Zealand 2012 Survery of Working Life, p. 5.