Freedom is the new wealth: 68% of freelancers say life has improved since going independent

Freelancers and independent workers: hold on to these recently published statistics. The workforce revolution is well underway, with more and more people (and companies!) turning to freelance work, often selling two or more skills to stay on top.

AND CO conducted a study on the future of work and the empowerment of the new generation of independent workers.

The survey results?

  • Freedom is the New Wealth: Despite a minority of freelancers (23%) saying that going independent has made them more financially stable, they’re overwhelmingly happier since they’ve gone solo: 68% say their quality of life has improved.
  • Freelance Isn’t a Fallback: Just 6% of respondents said they were freelancing until a full-time opportunity comes along, shattering the commonly-held stereotype that freelancers have no other option. More than 40% of respondents said they intend to freelance “forever.”
  • Meet the Slash Workers: 95% of respondents surveyed are “Slash Workers,” that is people who sell two or more talents to multiple clients vs. specializing within a single job function.
  • Not About the Benjamins: The No. 1 reason freelancers cite for going independent: personal growth (40%), followed by flexibility (27%). Just 7% did so for a perceived financial upside.
  • Open the Floodgates: Two in three freelancers in the study have been independent for less than three years. The largest share of newly-minted independents are creatives.
  • Death of the Office: 25% of freelancers surveyed said they are “digital nomads,” working and traveling remotely in cities around the world. Looking ahead, 60% of respondents said they’d consider adopting a nomadic lifestyle in the future.
  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Freelancers reported getting stiffed by clients across all income levels, with 44% saying they’ve had trouble collecting payment before. More than 60% of respondents said there is a general lack of respect for the freelance community.
  • Freelance Wage Gap: Male respondents were 4.5X more likely to earn more than $150K a year than female respondents, yet more men said they had been stiffed by a client.
  • What’s Missing? 61% of freelancers say they miss the feeling of community that a traditional workplace affords. More than half said they wished more companies would offer remote work options for freelancers.

The accompanying video neatly summarises the report:

They interviewed 300 independent workers in February and March 2017. They were 52% Male, 47% Female, and 1% Other 71% were from U.S., with 29% from outside the U.S. Their nature of work was varied: 33% were from creative/design fields; 21% were from professional services; 17% specialized in writing/journalism/content; and 15% in tech/web design or development.

To fully understand these new independent workers including what drives them and their potential fallbacks, we’ve highlighted key points from this comprehensive study:

Freelancers say they enjoy a better quality of life since going independent


One of the more interesting insights to come from the study is this idea that “freedom is the new wealth.” 68% of the study’s respondents state they are happier now than they were before going independent.

People are actively turning to freelance for personal fulfilment over financial stability


Of the leading reasons why more people are turning to independent work: personal growth and flexibility. Translation? It’s not about the money. These freelancers are making a conscious decision to turn to freelance for personal freedom rather than a financial upside.

Today’s independents are “slash workers” who sell 2 or more skills within their careers


Only 5% of the participants claim focus on a single craft, meaning a majority of freelancers are selling more skills so they gain more experience and can even explore more of their passions.

There’s still a growing need to reduce the ‘freelance’ stigma and encourage a tighter community


Of some of the roadblocks freelancers face, like getting stiffed by a client or uncertainty in steady work, those in this survey say they would like to see more opportunities to build a stronger community.

Furthermore, 60% of them said there’s a stigma against freelancers, highlighting even more the need for them to come together and tackle these issues head on.

Where do you fit in?

While the future is clearly independent, it’s important to understand how to navigate this type of lifestyle for both the freelancers and the employers hiring them. As more and more people are turning to this type of work, we must arm ourselves with the proper tools and information to excel and cater to the independent work lifestyle.

For more on the study:

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