Few would doubt that the recession has had a dramatic impact on employment patterns in the UK.
Combined with changes in employment legislation over the years and an employer-driven trend towards flexible working, the changes necessitated by the recession have resulted in a new emerging model for businesses of all sizes.
The trend seems to be towards a smaller permanent workforce of core employees supported by a peripheral force of freelancers, consultants, and temporary workers. There are now 1.4 million freelancers in the UK.
Even within the permanent workforce, flexible working hours and working from home are becoming major factors in shaping the employment model.
In addition, outsourcing, once the province principally of IT, is increasingly being extended to other non-core activities with services as varied as website development, data storage, recruitment, payroll, secretarial, sales and marketing, health and safety, competitor analysis, and even reception and opening the mail being contracted out.
International outsourcing is also on the increase with the latest figures showing that almost a quarter of SMEs are considering offshoring some elements of their business.
In many cases, these changes can have benefits for both employees and businesses, and smart businesses will embrace the changes where appropriate and turn them to their advantage.