Flexibility Key For Many Freelancers, Toptal Survey Shows


A new survey by Toptal, a work intermediation platform and network of freelance software engineers and designers, offers some insight into a specific segment of online freelancers: software developers and designers. The “2016 Freelancer Lifestyle” survey shows the growing number of contract workers enjoy the flexibility freelancing offers and do not miss working in a traditional office environment.

Of the 2,000 members it surveyed, Toptal found that 93% of freelancers enjoy the flexibility of their lifestyle and only 7% miss working in an office environment. Additionally, 13% of the freelancers said they would not return to work at an office while 46% said they would if it was for their dream job.

The independent workforce is expected to grow by about 25% by 2020, totalling nearly 40 million people. In 2015, there were about 17.8 million full-time independent workers and about 12.4 million part-time independent workers, according to an MBO Partners report. As the recent Toptal survey shows, many of these freelancers and independent workers are highly satisfied with their jobs. A total of 95% said they feel more productive working remotely. Typical work hours vary among freelancers, with 41% saying they work typical office hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and another 42% saying they work long hours but take frequent breaks.

Insights on Specific Freelancing Talent

As Andrew Karpie, research director of services and labor procurement at Spend Matters, pointed out, there have been many surveys in recent years about the attitudes and motivations of freelancers, independent consultants and on-demand workers. However, the recent Toptal survey is interesting as it zeros in on Toptal’s specific talent pool of freelancing software developers and designers.

“So often today, the multicategory workforce emerging outside of full-time employment is painted with a broad brush across the various surveys and the presentations by the media,” Andrew said. “Specific surveys like this one should be helpful going forward to understand more about these workers. All of the different platforms out there are in a unique position to make this contribution.”

The Toptal survey also offers details into the age groups of its freelance members, the majority of which (50%) are part of generation X, or those between the age of 30 and 39. Forty percent are millennials, 8% are in their 40s and 1% are ages 50 and older.

Family Benefits of Freelancing

One of the other perks freelancers identified in the Toptal survey was being able to spend more time with their children. About a third of the freelancers have children and 31% of that groups say they freelance specifically to spend more time with their kids. Additionally, 66% said their kids are better off because they work from home.

Freelancers are split, however, on allowing children into their work environment at home. Half said they interact with their children while working and another 50% said their home office was a “kid-free zone.”

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