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Flexible working can be liberating but also career limiting


The freelance economy is on the rise as professionals opt for independent, flexible working to achieve career fulfilment and a better work/life balance.

Despite the rise in freelance workers, new research from Epson has revealed that freelancing can lead to career compromise and skill decay.

The study, which surveyed 1000 UK freelancers, found that nearly a third (29%) of freelancers feel their career progression has been stunted, whilst over a quarter (27%) have admitted that they have de-skilled since going freelance.

These figures revealed in the research are disheartening, particularly as 41% of respondents chose to freelance to get the career they wanted. Given that flexibility and adaptability are key to freelance success, these findings flag an important issue. The skills that clients need from their self-employed workforce constantly change with the evolving global, digital and economic business landscape, and if freelance workers can’t respond to that by investing in their own professional development, they leave themselves very vulnerable – especially given the wealth of competitors on offer.

Annika Fagerstrom, head of consumer products at Epson UK, said: “Self-improvement is rarely at the top of a freelancer’s ‘to do’ list, largely because there are a dozen other tasks there already. Freelance workers quickly discover that they must become a ‘jack of all trades’; handling their own accounts and taxes, office equipment, marketing and IT, and fitting all of this in around their paid commissions. Small tasks mount up quickly, so it’s no surprise that many find it hard to attend training courses as well. If self-employed people can minimise those small tasks, for example by ensuring that their office equipment is reliable and hassle-free, it can make a big difference to a freelancer’s day-to-day workload.”

There are a few things that you can do to remain top of your game when it comes to your freelance career – as well as making day-to-day admin tasks easier to pave the way for those all-important work commissions:

  • Invest in training courses to make sure that your skillset is as advanced in possible – this can also include free and online qualifications.
  • Make invoicing and admin as manageable as possible by implementing payment and order processing systems that will take the headaches and hassles out of day-to-day manual tasks.
  • Network, network, network – events are crucial to raising your visibility in the industry and helping you land those jobs. Make sure you shout about yourself online, too – use social media to spread your skills!
  • Invest in the right equipment. Your tech set-up – both for working at home and remotely – is the foundation of your work, so spend the money where it counts, and don’t forget to upgrade as you go. Promotions and trade-in programmes will help mitigate the costs.