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Why is freelancing becoming more popular than ever before?

22 Oct 2019

Instant Offices has researched evolution of freelancing and the factors driving growth in this area.

European Freelancers Week is here and flexible workspace provider Instant Offices has researched freelancing trends and how they could evolve in the future.

According to the UK’s Office of National Statistics, the number of workers in the self-employed sector in the UK rose from 3.3m in 2001 to 4.8m in 2017.

So, why is freelancing becoming more popular?

Flexible working is one of the most discussed elements of the future of work, with people looking to create schedules that fit around their busy lives.

This can also be beneficial for businesses. Instant Offices claimed that freelancers will help to further drive change in the future by presenting growth opportunities. Companies will have the chance to draw on the talent and knowledge of a flexible workforce that may not be available full-time.

The gig economy

According to Instant Offices, the workforce of the future will look very different to the one we’re currently familiar with. A major factor driving this is the gig economy, which for some time has been promising to shake up the parameters of a ‘normal office’.

As the gig economy has been gaining traction, it has signified to many professionals that it is now more widely acceptable to find work on an ad-hoc basis.

With 92pc of millennials identifying flexibility as a key factor in job hunting, you might think that it’s purely younger members of the workforce hoping for less stringent schedules.

But according to a recent YouGov survey, flexibility is important to employees of all ages and life stages. It said that almost a third of all UK employees would forego a pay increase for the opportunity to work more flexibly.


The changing lifestyles of modern workers may be at the root of many emerging transformations in the freelancing community.

Instant Offices found that older generations represent the largest portion of freelancers at 48pc, while the number of new mothers deciding to pursue freelance employment rather than returning to full-time work has grown by 79pc over the past eight years.

Overall, the number of female freelancers has risen by a total of 55pc during that period, in comparison with a 36pc increase for men.

The work-life balance

As stigma around mental illness continues to break down, the notion of maintaining work-life balance is becoming more recognised and more prioritised.

In a bid to look after mental health and physical wellbeing, and encourage creativity and job satisfaction, employees are paying better attention to taking care of themselves at work. For many, flexibility and self-driven work is central to that.

Meanwhile, perspectives on freelancing are also changing. As something that has traditionally been viewed as unstable and unreliable,  research suggests that people are beginning to care less about those elements in favour of the perks that freelancing brings.

Across the EU in 2016, there were 33m people in self-employment. Shopkeeping, hairdressing and domestic cleaning are among the most popular professions among self-employed workers within the EU.

The future of freelancing

Industries should acknowledge the shifts in employee needs as we head into the future of work. But they should also exhibit openness to change and the potential opportunities it can bring.

Embracing a freelance workforce means companies can count on the benefits from harnessing top talent with the specific skills and knowledge pertinent to a given task. Instant Offices also points out that hiring freelancers presents far less financial risk for organisations.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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