The UK workforce has evolved dramatically in recent years, as millions of us go self-employed. As it stands, self-employment makes up 15% of the entire UK workforce. A record 4.8million freelancers, contractors and independent workers are fundamentally changing the UK's labour market forever.
And the advantages and disadvantages of working this way are well known. Self-employment versus employment is the debate that has been done to death. So who better to tell us about the day-to-day challenges of freelancing and contracting than a group of independent workers themselves?
‘To be or not to be a freelancer’, a study from IPSE, dives deep into the realities of self-employment. In addition to shedding light on the link between freelancing and life satisfaction, the overall findings are clear – independent workers are people who desire control over careers. Even with its difficulties, working for yourself can have a significantly positive impact on your wellbeing.
84% of freelancers are satisfied at working this way, with a reported three out of five independent workers actively choosing to go self-employed. The study suggests that those who chose freelancing went solo to strike a better worklife balance, to have greater control over their work and for the opportunity to maximise their earnings.
It speaks volumes about the benefits of self-employment that 70% of the two out of five people who did not actively choose to work independently are satisfied nonetheless.
Added risk and responsibility is unavoidable for freelancers and contractors. And the stress that comes with sourcing new clients, lack of security and managing finances could understandably get the better of some. That said, a telling 95% of freelancers and contractors agree that they can typically handle these challenges.
With regards to their work, 91% of independent workers are proud of the projects they’ve completed, with 69% feeling inspired. At 67%, the vast majority of freelancers are motivated when they wake up in the mornings too.
When it comes to the financial side of freelancing, 54% feel financially secure, with just over half of respondents stating their confidence in the availability of work in the marketplace. Continued efforts from Government to shut-down tax avoidance with radical changes to the tax system has, in many respects, reduced the benefits of self-employment. This hasn’t stopped 64% of freelancers from stating that they aim to continue working this way for the foreseeable future. 29% will carry on working independently for the short-term but have not ruled out employment in the future, while just 3% of freelancers surveyed are actively seeking an employed role.
For the majority of UK freelancers, independent working is clearly considered a long-term and viable way of working. And despite the inevitable and unavoidable challenges, research suggests that freelancers are happy working independently.
Are you happy working freelance?