The study was a deep dive that covered 182 professionals who had the experience of working in both freelancing and full-time employment work modes. It highlighted some interesting insights on the flexibility-control balance that freelancers face today and the resulting impact of those choices.
The surveyed people said that the top motivators for becoming a freelancer were increased flexibility, higher income, better learning and more satisfaction. Ostensibly, pursuing a freelance career should give greater flexibility as it allows people an opinion to choose their work hours and projects, enabling more control over their time. This, in turn, should lead to better work satisfaction and happiness. But what are the constraints and choices in that journey?
The time quotient
The Refrens analysis found that freelancing worked well for some people, giving them greater control of their time. Others might find this method of working to be more difficult. Most full-time employees who were surveyed said they concentrate their working hours within a more standard time period. While freelancers had the advantage of deciding when to work and when to be free, it did not necessarily mean they had more free time. The data showed that the freelancers surveyed were almost 50% more likely than full-time employees to work for 10 or more hours on an average working day.
This could also mean the possibility of higher pay for freelancers.
Drilling down in terms of pay, the freelancers surveyed reported earning an average of $10-$20 per hour.
Despite the likelihood of freelancers working longer hours on most days, they were also twice as likely to work six hours or less on other days, suggesting less predictable and more inconsistent schedules and incomes than full-time employees. While assessing pay, a critical factor is that a freelancer’s income is pre-tax, and a self-employed individual’s pay is subject to taxes such as GST. Additionally, freelancers have to cover medical insurance expenses from their own pocket, and they don’t have access to the typical benefits given by employers.
Work-life balance and satisfaction
The analysis revealed that aside from friends and family, freelancers also allocated time for community engagement, which can be beneficial for both relaxation as well for building long-term work relationships. Both full-time employees and freelancers dedicated time for entertainment and family activities.
Overall, the study said that the freedom and flexibility of freelance life and the choice between working as a freelancer versus being in traditional employment was highly individualistic. It depended on one’s personal circumstances, professional goals and values.
On a more philosophical note, the study added, “The ‘grass’ may seem greener on the other side, but perhaps the best question to ask oneself is, ‘Which field do you want to pursue?’ Because in either case, the cultivation of one’s own ‘grass’ — through hard work, creativity, and meaningful relationships — might be the key to finding happiness and fulfillment in any work setting.”