COVID: Why Freelancing Is On The Rise

Over the past 12 months, the world of work has been shifted more dramatically than anyone could have ever predicted at the start of 2020. Whilst the move to remote working has been a hugely talked about topic, something that has slipped under the radar is the dramatic increase in people turning to freelance work. 

We recently asked our data ninjas to find out how many freelancer registrations we’d had since the start of the pandemic. The results were staggering. Our marketplace has received 1.5m freelancer registrations since March last year – a 63% increase compared to the year before.

Why has COVID turned people to freelancing?

To find out, we recently surveyed 1,000 freelancers from our community. Of those that had started freelancing in the past 12 months, 1 in 4 said they had turned to freelancing due to loss of employment as a result of COVID. Unemployment has been one of the disastrous effects of the pandemic, as many businesses across many different sectors have had no choice but to downsize. 

Similarly to those who lost their jobs, many decided to launch a side hustle as a result of being furloughed, in fact, 10% of freelancer registrations over the past 12 months was because of this. As an advocate of remote working since our inception in 2007, it’s amazing to see that the ability to work with new clients without ever having to meet them face-to-face has been crucial for these new freelancers to earn an income. 

What does the future hold post-pandemic?

Freelancing looks set to remain a huge part of the future of work. Our research suggests that the trend is unlikely to finish once furlough schemes have come to an end. 97% of those who have started freelancing in the last year said they plan to continue freelancing in some form beyond the pandemic. 

When asked whether they would return to full-time employment, 40% said they would continue to freelance full-time, while nearly a fifth said they will return to employment and continue to freelance at the same time. According to the survey, nearly 40% of those we spoke to have become full-time freelancers, nearly 30% are part-time and close to one fifth are freelancing alongside a permanent job. 

With so many realising the benefits that freelancing can offer – as well as the extra income – we’re expecting to see freelancers become an even more integral part of the global economy.

What are the motivations for freelancing?

Our research revealed that motivation for freelancing is different between men and women. In the UK, a third (32%) of the women questioned cited flexibility as the main reason for turning freelance in 2020. However, flexibility was less important to men and increasing their income was the primary reason for turning freelance. Just one in five men cited flexibility as their top priority, versus 44% who said it was to increase their income.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, Founder of PeoplePerHour, comments: 

“There’s no doubt that 2020 has seen a marked shift change in how we all work. The flexibility that freelancing affords is undoubtedly why, at a time when our lives have been stretched in all directions, people find both success and security in working this way. Many have clearly seen the financial and life-changing benefits that this workstyle brings and plan to either switch permanently or incorporate it as part of the full-time work where possible.”