A career as a freelancer? In it for the long run

The work landscape is changing, and freelancers are at the forefront. Not only do they represent a continuously growing proportion of the workforce, many of them consider freelancing a suitable long-term career option. Only a small minority see themselves working for an employer again in the future. SD Worx and the Antwerp Management School teamed up to survey more than 1,800 freelancers across Europe on the shifting career context and what this means for organisations and their staff.

How many freelancers see their statute as a long-term option?

How many freelancers see their statute as a long-term option?

In control over your own development

The survey revealed the appeal of a freelance career, attributing it to various benefits. Being able to spend more time developing personal skills and competencies proved to be highly appreciated. This overall satisfaction is also due to the great sense of autonomy that comes with freelancing. Maintaining control over one’s personal and professional life increases that sentiment.

“As a freelancer, people have the flexibility to maintain control of their personal development, and as a result, they tend to be highly engaged in the workplace.”
– Hilde Haems, Chief HR Officer at SD Worx

While freelancers are generally satisfied with their careers, few of them rely on professional or personal networks for support, either for commercial advice or the development of new competencies. These figures show that there is still some margin for growth, as it is important that freelancers equip themselves with all the necessary tools to enhance their careers.

How do freelancers use resources and tools to build fruitful careers?

How are freelancers equiping themselves to build a positive career?

Flexibility: an employer’s key to success

According to Hilde Haems, Chief HR Officer at SD Worx, the need for a work-life balance is not restricted to freelancers only. “We are seeing a trend towards increasing personalisation of the employer-employee relationship. Employees’ choices are linked to factors such as age, gender, stage of life, employment contract, family situation, commuting requirements and culture. The extent to which employers meet these requirements largely determines a company’s success.”

Flexibility is crucial for an employer’s success. “Whether it’s related to working time, place, responsibilities or rewards, flexible companies often gain in the areas of employee engagement, productivity, retention and happiness at work”, says Hilde Haems. “Freelancers have the flexibility to control their personal development, and as a result, they tend to be highly engaged in the workplace.”

About the survey
This survey is part of the research agenda of SD Worx and Antwerp Management School (AMS) for the SD Worx Chair on 'Next Generation Work: Creating Sustainable Careers'. SD Worx and AMS surveyed a representative sample of 1,874 independent workers in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Potential respondents were contacted via an online panel and the samples were based on company size and industry.