Most freelancers still holding down another job are hoping to leave to be fully self-employed, according to a new study.

Thursday 16 May 2013

The majority of freelance workers who have another job are looking to leave in the next two years, new research has shown, as they attempt to make the most of the flexibility on offer as a self-employed professional.

Online workplace oDesk and consulting firm Millennial Branding asked more than 3,000 freelance professionals worldwide about their attitudes to their work. Of those who were also still employees of other organisations, more than seven out of ten said that they would like to quit to become their own boss full-time - and just over three out of five said that this was exactly what they were planning to do within the next two years.

Perhaps it is unsurprising that most said the main appeal of becoming a full-time freelancer was the freedom to pick and choose their own hours, projects and working patterns.

For more than 90 per cent of respondents, it was the ability to work flexibly across different locations that attracted them to self-employment. More than half said that they liked to work from home, compared to just one in five who would use an office as their main workplace. Around 11 per cent would use an open work space, while a similar proportion would be happy to work in a drop-in space.

In fact, nearly two-thirds even said that they would have more freedom to travel while they worked. Although this means that freelancers are more likely to take their work with them when they try to enjoy a getaway, it comes with the advantage that freelancers can take the time to explore new destinations without having to lose work - half said that they would rather do this than actually take holiday time.

But wherever freelancers chose to work, it would have to be available at a convenient time since 87 per cent said they valued the freedom to choose their working hours. Millennials - younger workers up to around 30 years old, the so-called ‘Generation Y’ - tended to prefer working at night with later starts and finishes. Older generations, on the other hand, tended to prefer concentrating their efforts in the morning.

Although the figure was markedly below the number who felt they would be more flexible to work elsewhere, 69 per cent of freelance workers either agreed or strongly agreed that being completely self-employed would give them better freedom to work on projects that interested them.

For contractors and freelancers, it appears that better rates and working from home are not the be all and end all when it comes to their work - satisfaction is clearly a key factor as well. While almost 70 per cent of freelancers with “regular jobs” said that freedom was the main reason they wanted to quit, a mere 63 per cent said that they were drawn to the “limitless income opportunity” that would come with striking out on their own.

Nearly six out of ten millennials and 42 per cent of older freelancers had already left a job to go freelance - with more planning to follow, the figures reflect the growing value of independence to today’s workforce.

By Victoria McDonnell

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