Empowering the Freelance Economy

UK staff cuts to spike freelancer demand says Fiverr

Peggy de Lange, VP of International Expansion at Fiverr
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Two new surveys published today, National Freelancers Day, reveal some telling freelancer hiring and talent trends and why we can expect to see freelancer numbers grow in 2022.

  • Almost one-third of UK freelancers attribute increased demand to businesses cutting staff 
  • 51% of freelancers say they’ve increased their workload to combat rising living costs 
  • 21% of freelancers have taken it among themselves to increase the scope of their services or upskill in certain competencies (19%) to meet current demands
  • Over a quarter of employees are considering a side-hustle to help manage the cost-of-living crisis

Following the emergence of the Great Resignation, new research from IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) has found that two in five Brits (39%) have considered becoming a freelancer.

Interestingly, those currently employed in media, marketing, advertising, PR and sales (57%) and construction (47%) are the most likely to have considered making the move across to self-employment. The research found that men are more likely than women to envisage themselves becoming self-employed in the future (30% compared to 25% respectively).

When breaking down the reasons why Brits are interested in becoming a freelancer, the research found that the main factor was flexibility (49%), followed by being their boss (48%) and an improved work-life balance (48%). What’s more, the research found that over three in 10 (33%) employees believe that they could make more money as self-employed workers.

The new research, carried out by YouGov saw 1000 Brits asked about their attitudes towards freelancing, ahead of National Freelancers Day. It found that the overwhelming majority of full-time workers (72%) believe that the contribution that the self-employed make to the UK economy and society is either fairly or very positive. This is supported by previous IPSE research, which found that the solo self-employed workforce contributes an estimated £303 billion to the UK economy per year.

“After 11 years of continuous growth, the number of self-employed workers has fallen dramatically, decreasing by 800,000 individuals since 2019,” said Derek Cribb, CEO at IPSE.

While many commentators worried that numbers of self-employed workers might continue to fall post-pandemic, today’s research clearly shows that freelancing is back! Brits are still keen to pursue freelancing, with a significant number thinking about swapping their full-time job for the dynamism, freedom and creativity of self-employment.

Derek Cribb, CEO at IPSE

Side-hustles: they are the new norm

The research also looked into the rise in side-hustles – those in full-time work creating additional sources of income through a secondary role, business or gig. It found that almost half of full-time workers (46%) are interested in adopting a side-hustle. Interestingly, women are slightly more likely than their male employee counterparts to be currently adopting a side-hustle (14% compared to 11% respectively).

With worries around inflation increasing in recent months, the research found that of those with a side hustle, over three in 10 (35%) started their side-hustle to help them cope with the current cost of living crisis. It also found that of those that haven’t yet started a side hustle, over half (55%) would consider starting a side-hustle to help them manage the crisis.

Perceived barriers to self-employment

For those uninterested in becoming a freelancer, the research found that their main reason for not making the switch is wanting a fixed regular income (55%), followed by job security (49%). Further barriers for employees included not knowing where to start (36%), not having enough financial capital to set up a business (35%) and lacking confidence in their ability to work for themselves (29%).

Staff cuts and remote working sees freelancer demand soar

According to a separate Fiverr survey of 1,500 UK freelancers and 1,000 business owners, business demand for UK freelancers has increased, particularly as a result of permanent staff cuts and remote work.

42% of surveyed freelancers say demand for their services has increased since the pandemic. More recently, 31% say increased demand is a result of UK businesses cutting permanent staff. 

Fiverr

The study from Fiverr reveals that so far in 2022, half (49%) of UK freelancers have increased their workload. Whilst 43% say this is due to demand, over half (51%) have done so as a result of the rising cost of living. 

How the rising cost of living is impacting UK freelancers

According to the study, 23% of business owners say the rising cost of living could mean they need to cut staff this year, and 20% say they would plan to use more freelancers.  

In turn, UK freelancers would rather increase their workload than increase their rates – 61% have kept their rates the same despite a turbulent economic climate.

However, 40% plan to raise them at some point in 2022 and 28% have already. The most common reason was attributed to the rising cost of living which has pushed 68% of them to consider this change. Of those who have raised their rates, 63% have done so by up to 10%, and 32% have raised them between 11-25%. 

In fact, 1 in 4 of freelancers say they earn enough freelancing, but can’t afford to save and a further 25% of freelancers worry about making ends meet in the future. 63% believe that the rising cost of living is impacting their retirement plans. 

Entrepreneurial freelancers are facing the challenges of increasing demand and external economic factors head-on by quickly adapting their approach and offering. 21% have taken it among themselves to increase the scope of their services or upskill in certain competencies (19%) to meet current demands.

Peggy de Lange, VP of International Expansion at Fiverr comments:

Since the pandemic, freelancers have become a vital part of the UK workforce, supporting businesses with a rapid shift to digital and remote work. Now, with the rising cost of living impacting businesses’ bottom line, freelancers are helping to fill gaping talent gaps created by a combination of staff cuts and the Great Resignation.

However, our data confirms that freelancers are also feeling the financial pinch, so government should ensure to support them and the integral role they are playing as this situation evolves.

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