Neurodiversity and freelancing

This month, we’re honouring Neurodiversity Celebration Week by appreciating and highlighting some of the challenges that many of our freelancer community face and looking at how we can better support our neurodiverse community on their journey to find career success.

Neurodiversity is a term that has come from the positive perspective that all brains, regardless of differences in function, are normal. A neurodivergent person is defined as one whose neurological development and state are atypical. People who typically identify as neurodiverse may have been diagnosed with ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia as well as many more, and studies show that over 15% of the population may identify as neurodiverse to some extent.

To try and understand some of the benefits, challenges, and differences between freelance and full-time work for those who identify as neurodiverse, who better to ask than our 1 million+ strong army of freelancers. We had an incredible 900+ responses to our survey, all from freelancers who identify as neurodiverse and here’s what our community had to say…

The benefits of freelancing for the neurodiverse

74% of neurodiverse freelancers felt they had more freedom freelancing than in regular employment.

A common theme speaking to the benefits of freelancing for our neurodiverse community was the flexibility and variety that this type of work offers. The opportunity to work on multiple projects for multiple clients allows much more variety in work and many respondents found this allowed them to be more productive by choosing what to work on when putting them in more control.

“I find having more than one [job] more available helps me because I have variety and choice about the work I do and when I work. Freelancing also gives me more latitude to express my individuality”

By far, the biggest reason for our community picking freelance work over full-time employment was the reduction of face-to-face interaction, with many of our respondents preferring communicating and working online without video. In fact, 73% of respondents said they generally preferred working on their own.

The challenges of freelancing and neurodiversity

While it was clear from our survey that freelancers who identify as neurodiverse preferred freelancing over full-time employment, they did note some areas that they found challenging. 60% of respondents said that they found structuring their workday challenging and 47% found client management and client demands the most challenging aspect of freelancing.

By far, the most disappointing insight from our survey was that 47% of freelancers said that they were not comfortable telling clients about their neurodiversity.

“Many people do not understand or do not know what it is and believe that it is a limitation and you will not be able to do your job well. They stop trusting your work.”

This is a huge part of why we conducted this survey, the lack of awareness around neurodiversity means that many freelancers don’t feel able to be open, in case of a negative reaction. So how do we as a collective move towards a place where everyone would feel comfortable talking about neurodiversity in a work environment and how might this understanding, openness, and support help our community?

Supporting our Neurodiverse community

While it was important and insightful to find out the key benefits and challenges of freelancing for our neurodiverse freelancers, it was also important for us to find out how our community feel they can be better supported in all types of employment.

“It shouldn’t be our job to “overcome barriers” it should be the work place that removes the barriers that make work inaccessible. With that said, due dates are a must, task lists, ensuring I ask any clarifying questions, getting as much information as possible”

Understanding that we all, as individuals, neurodivergent or not, will have different preferences for the way we work and communicate is key to helping us all remove barriers for people and allow everyone to feel confident and comfortable in their work environments.

When working with any freelancer, as well as asking them how much the project will cost and how long the project will take, think about asking them how they prefer communicating and what they need from you in terms of briefing and information to be able to be most successful in delivering the project to a high standard.

By creating a work environment that supports all individuals and removes barriers for those who identify as neurodiverse, you could reap the benefits of a more diverse and flexible workforce such as innovation, creativity, and help adopt a more agile mindset.

If you consider yourself to be neurodiverse and want to share your story, reach out to our team via