Working for yourself - freelancing can improve wellbeing and job satisfaction

With over two million people now working as freelancers in the UK, researchers have been looking at whether freelance work has an impact on wellbeing.

Changes in the UK job market in recent years have led to more people becoming self-employed. Although freelance work can give more autonomy over work and a greater flexibility for combining work and home life, it can also bring employment instability and uncertainty. A new study by Universiteit Leiden used data from Understanding Society to investigate the subjective wellbeing levels of freelancers in terms of satisfaction with life, work, leisure time, income and health.

The largest “gain” for freelancers was for satisfaction with their leisure time, with the researchers finding particularly high levels of satisfaction with leisure time among freelancers, compared with wage workers (i.e. people in employed jobs). Freelancers also scored significantly better in terms of work satisfaction compared with wage workers.

The researchers explain why this could be the case, “Possibly, this result is explained by the high flexibility that freelancers enjoy in terms of work place (home-based) and work rhythm. According to our data, freelancers indicate more often than the other employment groups to work from home and less often to have a fixed rhythm of work.

Analysis of the subjective wellbeing levels of freelancers revealed that in terms of overall subjective wellbeing freelancers, despite the uncertainty and riskiness surrounding their work, were on par with other self-employment groups (such as other own-account workers and employers) and employed people.

The research also looked at the reported health of freelancers and salaried workers and how satisfied they were with their income. Unlike the satisfaction levels for leisure time and for work, there was no significant difference in health satisfaction between freelancers, salaried workers and employers. There was also no statistical difference between freelancers, employers and wage workers in terms of their satisfaction with their income.

You can read the research here.