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IT firms and the joy of 'flex'

With most chief information officers recognising the benefits of flexible staffing, it's win-win for employers and workers

The future is looking bright for Singaporean IT workers seeking to capitalise on the benefits of flexible working arrangements.

According to new research commissioned by specialised recruiter Robert Half, an overwhelming majority of Singaporean chief information officers (CIOs) (94 per cent) are planning to increase their contract IT headcount by an average of 17 per cent over the next 12 months.

There is even better news for Singaporean contract IT workers specialising in IT security, database management, software/application development, technical support and operations, and business analysis.

That is because demand for temporary staff is strongest across these key sectors.

There is no doubt that Singapore's IT leaders are fast recognising the benefits of flexible staffing.

Companies are far better equipped to maintain business continuity and manage new projects by embracing a more dynamic workforce which carefully balance permanent and temporary IT professionals.

Through the flexibility of contract IT staff, companies can easily and quickly adjust their mix of skillsets to meet changing strategic and operational demands throughout the year.

With more than half of Singapore's CIOs (57 per cent) already adding more temporary IT workers to their headcount, this increased flexibility is cited as the biggest driver, followed by difficulties sourcing permanent staff and speed of hiring contract workers.

This modern approach to hiring brings added cost efficiencies, as well as providing employers with access to Singapore's rapidly growing pool of skilled IT professionals who are targeting temporary opportunities.

Hiring temporary workers also gives Singapore's businesses the option of bringing people into their teams on a contract basis in order to evaluate them before hiring them permanently.It can be extremely costly to make a bad hire, and starting them on a temporary basis allows both the employee and employer to evaluate the matchbefore making a long-term commitment.

For contract IT workers themselves, the benefits of temporary work often far outweigh the perceived downfalls, which is why many professionals in Singapore's IT space are considering short-term contracts.

It is certainly not uncommon for temporary work to lead to a permanent job.

If organisations wish to convert a temporary worker to permanent, they have the advantage of already knowing the person's strengths first-hand, highlighting the potential of temporary work turning into permanent work.

The IT space is also incredibly fast-paced. IT professionals understand, now more than ever, the security of their careers hinges on their ability and willingness to continually learn and adapt to changing environments and technology.

Contract work not only demonstrates adaptability, but it gives IT professionals the chance to upskill themselves through exposure to a diverse range of business functions, industries and projects.

IT workers can also take advantage of temporary placements to evaluate whether or not the company and employer is suitable for them if a permanent opportunity becomes available.

Temporary opportunities are also invaluable for developing those interpersonal skills as temporary workers must be able to communicate and collaborate effectively with many different personalities and levels of seniority.

Singapore's contract IT workers are set to become a more indispensable part of the workforce than ever before in 2018.

The writer is managing director of Robert Half Singapore.