Freelancers could account for half of working population in five years

Half of people in work will be operating in a freelance capacity by 2020, research predicts.

The self-employed labour market is growing at a rate of 3.5 per cent per year; faster than any other sector, according to a study by PeoplePerHour.

Should this growth continue for the next five years, the implication is that half of the working population will be self-employed freelancers by 2020.

Hiring freelance professionals could potentially save small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)£6,297.17 per employee per annum, the survey suggests.

While freelance work used to be considered something of a risky business, with no guaranteed income, the improved methods of communication through high-speed internet and the burgeoning mobile industry, mean that independent experts in all sectors can reach an endless supply of customers worldwide, says the organisation.

Freelance workers are able to deliver a niche skill, ensuring that their customers always receive a satisfactorily high-quality service.

In a survey conducted by the same company in May 2015, it was discovered that the average waste or spare capacity per day for SMEs was 1.9 hours per person. By hiring freelance professionals as required, this wasted time has an earnings/savings potential of £6,297.17 per annum.

For individuals, freelancing also brings many benefits; the ability to work hours that suit them and their family, the ability to choose work that most suits their skill set and the ability to work literally anywhere, adds PeoplePerHour.

Over the course of the last several years traditional specialist occupations have been becoming increasingly more refined, with highly niche subcategories of traditional roles evolving. This trend has been coined as the emergence of ‘hyper-specialists’, which enables firms to divide work into component parts that can then be subcontracted to hyper-specialists around the globe. With a corresponding growth in freelance labour, there has been a 75 per cent reduction in transaction costs for SMEs, allowing them to invest those savings into business development.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder of PeoplePerHour says, ‘The self-employed workforce is growing by the day, and on-demand services are being required more and more.

‘Speed and accessibility are today’s buzzwords and it’s no different when making recruitment decisions. It is literally a whole new economy in the making.’

Further reading on freelancing

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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