Is The UK Ready For A Freelance Workforce?

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The UK and EU economy is fast becoming increasingly reliant on the freelance workforce’s contribution. According to the ONS, the number of workers in the self-employed sector rose from 3.3 million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017, contributing over £250bn to the UK economy.

Freelancers, along with the self-employed, represent a changing part of the workforce and a growing opportunity for businesses, who can tap into a contingent workforce that they may be otherwise unable to employ full-time. As more people continue to swap the security of a 9-5 for flexibility of freelancing or working for themselves, Instant Offices have delved into the key factors driving this change.

Is There Space For A Gig Economy & A Traditional Office?

The workforce of the future will look very different than the current one today. The rise of the gig economy has often threatened ‘normal’ office work, as it has become a more widely acceptable, and in some cases more desirable to find work on an ad-hoc basis.

According to a recent YouGov survey, flexibility is important to employees of all ages and at all life stages. Recent research reveals the demand for flexible working has increased substantially:

  • 92% of millennials identify flexibility as a top priority when job hunting
  • 4 in 5 women want flexibility in their next role
  • Almost a third of UK employees would prefer flexible working to a pay rise
  • 70% of UK employee feel that flexible working makes a job more attractive to them

Who Are Today’s Freelancers?

Millennials and UK workers are facing significant lifestyle changes, such as motherhood, or nearing retirement, and are looking for more flexible and empowering ways to work.

Despite younger generations aspiring to have more freedom and flexibility, and baby boomers striving for job security, it is the older generations who represent the largest portion of freelancers, representing almost half (48%).

The number of new mothers choosing to take up freelance work, rather than returning to full-time employment has risen by 79%, while the number of female freelancers has grown by 55% in the past eight years. Comparatively, the number of men freelancing has increased by 36% in the same time frame.

Creating The Perfect Work-Life Balance

Improved mental health, physical wellbeing, creativity, and job satisfaction are just a few of the benefits that come from a healthy work-life balance, and research shows that 59% admit their work negatively impacts their day-to-day life.

A recent survey by One Poll found that flexible working hours, larger pension contributions and additional holiday days were among the top work perks desired by UK workers.

Freelancing & Self-Employment Have Gone Mainstream

Once described as an unreliable profession, freelancing is now a popular choice across all ages, while many young people also consider becoming entrepreneurs and working for themselves. Across the European Union, in 2016, there were 33 million people in self-employment.

Shop-keeping, hairdressing, and domestic cleaning are among the most popular professions among self-employed workers within the EU. In the UK however, healthcare, Artistic, literary and media, as well as sports and fitness, are the fastest-growing freelance occupations within the past decade with 191%, 103%, and 103% growth respectively.

The Future Of Freelancing

Amid the economic uncertainty of the Brexit era, freelancers are positioned to play a critical role in the British workforce. Freelancers make it possible for businesses to hire the most skilled and suitable talent, with far less financial risk attached.

With the continued expansion of the freelancing trend across multiple industries, it is evident that the UK workforce will continue to benefit from this labor force.




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