One in Four Workers Now Freelances (Full or Part Time), Study Finds

Staples Advantage Workplace Index

Flexibility and work-life balance are contributing to the rapid growth of the freelance economy according to the Staples Advantage Workplace Index, a new study of office workers in the U.S.

The study found that “nearly one in four employees freelance in some capacity.” It also revealed overall, 12 percent of employees work as freelancers as their primary source of income. The same percentage of people freelance in addition to their primary job.

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Benefits for Businesses and Freelancers

According to the study, flexibility to choose their own work hours (37 percent) and the ability to make more money (39 percent) are the top motivations for people to freelance. Thirty-two percent of employees prefer freelancing because it helps them achieve work-life balance.

It’s not just employees who benefit from freelance work. Businesses also gain from this arrangement.

By not having to hire full-time employees, small businesses save the money they’d be spending on full-time staff members. It’s also easier managing professional freelancers who work independently and quickly move up to speed.

Another benefit is the flexibility freelancers offer businesses. Since they choose their own time of work, it’s simpler for businesses get their work done even beyond the normal business hours.

“The freelance economy is a win-win for people who have a desire to work on their own time and companies who want to streamline in-house operations,” says Pat Griffin, enterprise account executive at HourlyNerd, a company that connects businesses with freelancers.

Things to Remember When Hiring Freelancers

Working with freelancers is quite different than getting the job done by full-time employees. Apart from providing temporary access to IT services and equipment, freelancers need more assistance to complete their work on time.

Here are some important things to remember when you hire freelancers.

Regular Interactions to Consider

Whether the freelancer sits in your office or works virtually, it is important to maintain regular communication throughout the project duration. Constant interaction ensures minimal confusion and mutual agreement on key deliverables, deadlines and expectations.

Workforce Strategy for Freelancers

Before hiring freelancers, you must develop a clear strategy to avoid confusions later. The strategy should include elements such as compensating freelancers, type of work to be allocated to them and managing relations.

IT Support Right from Day One

Freelancers are paid by the hour. It is, therefore, essential they have all the resources at their disposal on time. If you are getting freelancers to work out of your office, you must ensure they have laptops, docking stations and internet connection as well as access to your internal site to complete their work efficiently.

Freelancers Photo via Shutterstock

Shubhomita Bose Shubhomita Bose is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. She covers key studies and surveys about the small business market, along with general small business news. She draws on 8 years of experience in copywriting, marketing and communications, having worked extensively on creating content for small and medium sized enterprises.

6 Reactions
  1. I see an direct correlation between the popularity of freelancing and the amount of regulation around full-time employees. The more laws & taxes applied to full-time employees, the more desirable it becomes to use freelancers. All a freelancer needs is a single 1099 form and you’re done. No payroll taxes. No benefits. Simple. Easy.

    I think this same principle is what has led companies like Uber and AirBnB to such insane valuations. They have tens of thousands of people using the system, but none of them are actual employees.

    • Exactly. For small businesses operating on tight budgets, it would certainly make more sense to hire freelancers and save money.

  2. I love that more people are willing to turn away from employment and aim for more.

    Though not all freelancers are paid by the hour and I think that paying them by the hour negatively effects their performance.

    They are motivated to draw out the task at hand for as long as possible in order to make more money.

  3. This study and others serve to highlight that independent work is a viable work option. Businesses of every size can benefit from utilizing independent workers in addition to traditional employees. I do, however want to point out that no business should supply a freelancer (1099 workers) with supplies or require them to work onsite (unless it is necessary to complete the work). Doing so is a direct violation of state and federal regulations that govern the classification of independent workers. Giving independent workers laptops, docking stations and paying them by the hour can put a business at risk of employee misclassification – a very costly risk.

    • Karen,

      How does a professional employer organization comes into play on today’s labor market?

      I recently signed up with a company that will take care of the invoicing, cover the insurance during my work hours, etc.

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