We are seeing more PAs become freelance due to being able to work from home and manage more than one boss at a time. Some decide to dabble with the freelance lifestyle for a short-term with the plan to go back to working in-house eventually. But more of those that have become freelance are choosing to stick with it for the long-term.
Freelancers continue to represent an increasingly significant proportion of the workforce, people are increasingly seeing this way of working as a career choice, not just a short-term, convenient option. Almost four out of ten (39.5%) freelancers plan to remain so in the long term, with only 7.2 per cent of those currently working in this manner wanting to work as an employee again in the future.
Freelancers are spending time developing their skills
There are clear reasons why this is proving to be an effective career choice, rather than just a short-term fix. Freelancers are often highly engaged employees, due to the core qualities that come with the sense of autonomy they have, such as being able to manage workloads effectively and being in control of personal development. This results in freelancers feeling competent in their jobs, with 75.5 per cent of UK respondents stating that they feel they are doing well in their job, while only 14.5 per cent have doubts about whether they can do their jobs properly.
Secondly, freelancers have the flexibility to develop and enhance their professional skills as they see fit. This independent self-governance is obviously appealing, freelancers in Germany (46.6%) and France (42.9%) are most likely to actively spend time developing and adding to their own skills, followed by The Netherlands (36.6%) and Belgium (38.3%), whilst UK freelancers (29.9%) are least likely.
How freelancers are equipping themselves to build a positive career
Despite three out of ten UK freelancers spending time developing their own skills, there are clear deficiencies to be addressed. Only 22.4 per cent of them actually use professional or personal networks for support. Of the freelancers surveyed, UK freelancers are the least likely to use support networks, compared to 35.5 per cent in Belgium and almost one in three (31.1%) in the Netherlands. Additionally, 64.9 per cent of UK freelancers never look for support on commercial advice, qualities that are increasingly important for professionals across any industry vertical. Freelancers are, however, keen to look for support when it comes to new competencies, with 41.1 per cent of British freelancers stating that they have done so.
Fiona McKee, head of human resources at SD Worx UK & Ireland, said: “It’s easy to think that people freelance as a temporary solution, possibly to bridge a gap between different jobs or because they need extra flexibility due to family commitments.
“Clearly, there are many more significant factors behind why people are seeing freelancing as a long-term career choice though. As a freelancer, people have the flexibility to be in control of their personal development and as a result, they tend to be highly engaged in the workplace. However, that flexibility isn’t necessarily restricted to freelancers only. We are seeing a trend towards a personalisation of the employer-employee relationship. The focus is increasingly on the individual. ”