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Freelancers enjoy greater control over work/life balance

The majority of freelancers are satisfied working for themselves and wish to continue doing so

An overwhelming proportion of freelancers believe they can address work-based challenges better than if they were employed, according to research from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

To be or not to be a freelancer: Job satisfaction and wellbeing explored the link between independent workers and their work/life balance. It found 95% of the 1,053 freelancers surveyed felt they dealt with work challenges better when freelancing, and 91% had a greater sense of pride in their work. Four in five freelancers (84%) said they were happy working for themselves.

More than half (60%) of respondents began working for themselves to achieve a better work/life balance. Just 18% freelanced because of losing their previous job, and only 13% felt they had no other option but to work for themselves.

Almost two-thirds (64%) intend to work as a freelancer in the foreseeable future, with 29% considering switching and 3% intending to leave freelancing as soon as possible.

Suneeta Johal, IPSE’s head of research, education and training, said: “While it’s true that working for yourself can be hard, our survey found freelancing can be a very rewarding way to work. Freelancers tend to be happier and more motivated than employees so it would be no surprise if this way of working continued to grow in popularity.

"For most people freelancing is a very positive choice offering greater control over how you spend your life, and this is reflected in the overwhelming number who are satisfied with self-employment."

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO of freelance recruitment firm PeoplePerHour, agreed. “The assertion that freelancers are happier than employees is certainly something our own research supports," he told HR magazine. "The way people work has changed and evolved, and given how happy they are with their autonomy it doesn't look like they will be looking for traditional employment in a hurry.”

Daniel Callaghan, founder and CEO at recruitment tech firm Talmix, told HR magazine: “The findings closely echo what we hear from our own independent consultants. This includes freelancers being happier, earning the equivalent or more by going independent, and despite political uncertainties the likelihood of returning to full-time employment is very low. We see hundreds of new consultants joining Talmix every month and these numbers show no sign of anything other than acceleration.”

This research follows the recent release of IPSE's manifesto, which demands better support for the self-employed from the next government. It called for changes to tax and statutory employment definitions and a pensions review.

James Collings, IPSE's chairman, said he was hopeful the Taylor Review into new working practices, due out this month, will take a sensible approach to regulating self-employment.