COVID prompts biggest rise in freelancing since banking crisis

Women said the flexibility provided by freelancing was its main attraction. Photo: Getty Images
Women said the flexibility provided by freelancing was its main attraction. Photo: Getty Images

More than 227,000 Brits applied as freelancers in 2020 amid the pandemic, up 60% from 2019, a new study revealed.

Freelance online jobs marketplace PeoplePerHour surveyed 1,000 freelancers nationwide across industries such as writing and translation, digital marketing, design and social media.

It found that one in four Brits have turned to freelancing due to loss of employment as COVID-19 hit took a toll on almost every sector in the economy, with London having the highest increase (67%) for freelancer applications.

One in 10 said they made the move because they had been furloughed.

About 52% of this group said they had done so to earn more money while 17% said it was to take their career in a new direction.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder of PeoplePerHour, noted that “the flexibility that freelancing affords is undoubtedly why, at a time when our lives have been stretched in all directions, people find both success and security in working this way.”

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The report also found that almost all (97%) of those who have started freelancing in the last year said they plan to do so beyond the pandemic.

Nearly 40% said they had become full-time freelancers, nearly 30% were part-time and close to one fifth were doing it alongside a permanent job.

The research also found that the motivation for freelancing is different between men and women.

In the UK, a third (32%) of the women questioned cited flexibility as their main reason.

For men, the financial aspect was more important. Just one in five men cited flexibility as their top priority, while 44% who said it was to increase their income.

Globally, the platform saw a 61% jump in freelancer registrations on their website.

Earlier it was reported that freelancers in the UK are set to earn more this year amid a rise in demand for their services and more opportunities on offer.

According to the report, the most common reason (67%) for using freelancers was to introduce skills the business didn’t have in-house. Some 42% of owners took advantage of flexible talent to speed up projects, while a third (35%) said the reason they used freelancers was to save money.

Just over a quarter (28%) also said they had turned to freelancers to help move their business online last year as the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated a shift away from traditional bricks-and-mortar.

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