New Studies on Freelancers: How They Work, What They Do, and Why They Do It

Web Design Online Technology Working Office ConceptUpwork recently released data that more American adults are working as freelancers than ever before; it’s estimated that one in three Americans (around 53 million people) has worked either full-time or part-time as a freelancer.

But a lot of people began wondering, who are all these freelancers? What do they do? How are they comfortable without a guaranteed regular paycheck?

For freelancers, the answer is pretty simple: freelancing is whatever you make of it. For everyone else, it was all still confusing until LinkedIn released a report on “who these people are.”

By looking at LinkedIn members’ profiles, including who identified their work as “freelancing” and which industries these people belong to, the company found that most freelancers (46%) work in arts and design, while 34% identify as workers in media and communications.

The personality and professional skills of “these people” isn’t as easy to nail down, which comes as no surprise.

On one hand, 50% of the U.S. workforce is capable of telecommuting, based solely on their job requirements, and Associations Now stated that many studies have found that employees who telecommute tend to be more productive than office workers.

Tech Crunch reported that, according to the Upwork survey, 76% of freelancers love the flexibility of their jobs, and 78% said they were earning more within a year than they would have made in their former jobs. At least one in every two freelancers said that they would never go back to a traditional office environment, no matter how much it paid.

As Boston.com stated, more flexibility leads to more opportunities to de-stress. Spending less time (and gas money) in rush-hour traffic is another benefit of telecommuting, and cutting this twice-daily waste of time is a pretty effective way to cut down on stress.

Considering that the U.S. freelance population has grown so substantially in the past few years, it makes sense that more people are engaging in activities that they actually enjoy. Gardening, for example, is often considered an effective way to unwind; according to a survey from last year, over 113 million Americans are active gardeners. Many others have picked up new sports. Others just use the time to reconnect with family and friends.

But on the other hand, the Association for Psychological Science (APS) released a study in October which stated that working remotely is beneficial but only if done in moderation. Job satisfaction, overall performance, and coworker relationships all tend to be stronger when telecommuters divide their time between home and the office.

So what’s the verdict on working away from the traditional office environment? Helpful and constructive, or rebellious and lonely? That’s for you to decide.

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