FREELANCERS, often portrayed as corporate rejects eking out a living on the economic margins, are among the country’s happiest and most productive workers, researchers have found.
Not only do they typically work just 38 hours a week, they also earn a median wage of £43,000, well above the national average of £25,000. The research also found that they were, on average, happier, primarily because they had no permanent boss.
“For many, freelancing is emerging as the ideal lifestyle, especially in creative and digital industries where people can work from any location, including home, and which demand high levels of innovation,” said Dr Jonathan Sapsed, from the University of Brighton’s Business School.
Using funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council(AHRC), Sapsed and his colleagues surveyed 304 freelancers from a range of professions in southern England.
“Many had indeed been made redundant by their former company employers but far from struggling to get by, many were doing well and said it [redundancy] was the best thing that could have happened to them,” Sapsed said.
Britain has about 31m people in work, of whom about 4.6m are self-employed. Ed Vaizey, the culture, communications and creative industries minister, said the findings showed the vitality of the freelance economy.
“The self-employed play a key role in driving the culture of innovation in the creative and digital industries and are a vital part of Britain’s economic growth,” he said.
Professor Rick Rylance, chief executive of the AHRC, said freelancers were becoming so important to the UK economy that the government needed to devise new tax and other policies to support them.