Nearly a quarter of office workers are now freelancers either part- or full-time, according to figures released today from Staples Advantage Workplace Index.
Top drivers for freelancers include the flexibility to make their own hours (cited by 37 percent of those surveyed) and work-life balance (32 percent). A total of 1,528 employees were interviewed in the U.S., with 1,026 classified as general office workers and 502 as business decision makers.
The study found that freelancing represents the primary source of income for 12 percent of workers, and that another 12 percent of workers do freelance work on the side.
Among those surveyed, nearly 40 percent said that they freelanced to make more money. More than a quarter of independent workers earn more than $75,000 a year, and the number making more than $100,000 a year has surged by 45 percent in the past four years, according to a separate report released last summer by MBO Partners.
Nearly 80 percent of those who work for themselves said they were happier working on their own and plan on remaining independent, and one in seven non-independent workers is considering going freelance, the MBO report found. About 45 percent said they make more money working on their own full-time.
The rise of the sharing economy and the ease with which technology platforms now match freelance workers with potential clients has helped fuel the increase in freelancers. Workers under age 34 or over age 55 are the most likely to start freelancing by choice, according to a report by Edelman Berland.
While freelance work does often offer better pay and more flexibility, it offers no benefits and less security. Full-time freelancers can now get healthcare through Obamacare, but studies have shown that they’re less diligent about setting up and regularly contributing to retirement accounts than those who work for a company.