A useful survey from Worksome.com
Spring is the time when surveys of the previous year proliferate. Most are pretty boring, so it’s always a pleasure to read an industry research report that offers an interesting and thoughtful narrative. In my experience, most industry survey projects would benefit more from an ‘outside to’ perspective: provide what your target reader wants to know, not what you need to show. I regularly review a large number of survey reports emailed to me over the course of a week that are, overall, data intensive but insight lite.
But every now and then an investigation report pops up in my email that offers a helpful guide to freelance writers’ experiences through this difficult pandemic. In this case, the investigation is carried out by Worksome.com, a fast growing Danish platform with deep roots in freelance, now operating out of London and Copenhagen. It has also recently entered the US market. Thanks to the co-founder of Worksome and CCO Mathias linnemann and new American head Morton Bruun.
Before presenting the results of their investigation, keep two caveats in mind. Firstly, the survey population is small: 1200 freelancers covering several professional fields, technology, advertising and creation, HR and administrative services and design, which made it difficult to assess the impact in professional fields, for example. , how do tech and agency freelancers differ in the availability of interesting work? The second limitation is more significant for some readers than for others: the survey is specific to the UK and does not offer any perspective beyond.
Worksome kicked off its findings with a helpful perspective:
- There is no doubt that the pandemic has had an effect on the self-employed. But what kind of effect did it have?
- Have freelancers benefited from their familiarity with remote working?
- With businesses needing to redefine their priorities, how have freelancers been affected in the process?
- Now that more and more people have been exposed to the freelance lifestyle, has there been an increase in the number of employees turning to freelancing as a permanent solution?
Here’s what they found:
1. Covid-19 has led many freelance workers on leave or fired. 21% of freelancers surveyed became freelancers to provide a wider range of opportunities in privileged locations or because they had been made redundant or on leave and needed to replace essential family income.
2. Freelance work experience (different from life experience) during Covid-19 was generally more positive than negative. Certain categories of freelancers have had a significantly more positive experience than other cohorts of freelancers. We took the data from the Worksome.com survey and created a net experience index. When we subtract the% negative from% positive, we get a clear experience Goal. A positive score means more freelancers reported a positive experience. Here are the details:
Net Positive (with net score)
Sales and Marketing: +30
HR, administration: +30
IT, software and data: +26
Journalism and communication: +19
Design, photo and video: +6
3. While freelancers were generally positive about their work experience during Covid-19, the availability of interesting project work varied a bit.. Almost a third of freelancers (31%) saw an increase in project opportunities as a result of Covid-19; an essentially equal number (30%) reported a reduction in project work. Here’s what they found:
No change or not sure: 39%
4. Despite less project work available to many, the ability to work remotely has been a boon for most freelancers.. About three-quarters (74%) of freelancers in this survey found it easy to work remotely, found tools like Zoom, Teams, and Slack useful, and found clients to be generally more understanding and comfortable. with remote work. But, freelancers – like others – have missed out on the social aspects of working in a common place. Most freelancers reported some degree of comfort with working remotely, but looked forward to regular college contacts in the future.
5. Although productivity increases due to remote working are widely reported, only a third of these freelancers (36%) reported increased productivity due to remote working.. Those who saw a benefit reported less time traveling or attending mandatory meetings. 45% of freelancers saw no significant productivity gain.
6. Freelancers are a community of hard-working professionals. While freelancing provides additional flexibility for freelance professionals, most freelancers have reported working demanding hours. Most (85%) of freelancers reported working, on average, more than 6 hours per day on paid projects, preparation, marketing, speaking with clients and colleagues, and other responsibilities. Several members of this group reported working 9 hours or more as a normal day. Unsurprisingly, those who have experienced a reduction in freelance work have had to put in extra time and effort building their reputation, bidding on projects, and working with other freelancers to âhunt in a packâ to generate project opportunities. longer term.
7. Most freelancers prefer the freelance life to a permanent full-time job. Almost three-quarters of freelancers (74%) described themselves as feeling happier as freelancers than as employees. Three in five (59%) describe themselves as having more economic freedom as a freelance writer than as a permanent employee. Additionally, a high percentage (72%) said they spent more time with their family as a freelancer – despite the long hours.
8. While freelancers prefer freelance life, there was a significant economic cost during Covid-19. Almost two-thirds (64%) of survey respondents said they earned less than usual during COVID-19. A similar percentage (71%) said projects had been delayed or canceled due to the pandemic.
9. Government can and must do more to help freelancers. Two-thirds (67%) of freelancers believe the UK government has not done enough to support freelancers during the pandemic. And, almost half (45%) of freelancers feared there would be fewer jobs available after Brexit due to the increased pressure on businesses already stressed by the pandemic (39% couldn’t predict how Brexit would affect the independent sector). Due to financial uncertainties during the pandemic, three-quarters (73%) of freelancers said they had increased their savings to prepare for possible months of unemployment. But finances are still tight for most freelancers: 39% said they had 1-2 months of typical salary in the bank, while 29% were able to save 3-4 months of salary.
ten.Over two-thirds of freelancers (71%) said life was better as a freelancer than as a permanent employee. Optimism with regard to freelancing remains strong overall. Eight in ten (79%) freelancers said the freelancer is here to stay after COVID-19, and 82% plan to continue working as a freelance full-time or part-time as a side gigger afterwards the end of COVID.
The Worksome.com survey continues an important trend in the independent community: ask freelancers how they are doing and what they think about the future. It’s a good start, but our research efforts to support the freelance revolution must do more than just take the temperature of the freelance community. We need to think bigger and recognize the full potential of freelancing to change the nature of careers and reorganize the workforce of organizations large and small. We need to dig deeper into the critical factors that determine the quality of a freelance writer’s experience: what platforms can do and what individual freelancers need to do for and by themselves, to improve their performance and satisfaction, and to stay competitive for the long haul. the half-life of their occupation continues to decrease. There should be an industrial and professional psychology for the freelancer as there has been for employees of large companies. A global and collaborative effort is necessary. Independent experience is likely to vary greatly depending on professional fields as well as geographic and industrial markets.
One of the great advantages of the independent revolution is its potential as a leveler and democratizer of opportunity. But, to achieve this goal, we need to understand how to help individual freelancers, independent co-ops and bilateral markets know how to do it.
Long live the revolution!