Freelancers: ‘Don‘t call us gig workers‘

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  • Freelancers prefer to be called consultants rather than gig workers.
  • A survey by Expert360 found flexibility is the most common driver of becoming a freelancer.
  • Most respondents (80.3%) reported freelancing supports their ambitions to keep doing paid work as well as parenting/caring unpaid work.

Australian freelancers don’t want to be called gig workers.

Most (84%) identify with the title consultant, according to a survey. Only 2.2% want to be called a gig worker.

But many agree that they like working as independent consultants and contractors and no amount of money would tempt them back into permanent full-time work.

A survey by Expert360, an online marketplace for independent business consultants, found flexibility is the most common benefit for freelancers, with 31.2% of total respondents and almost half (46.5%) of females citing it as a driver.

The majority of respondents (80.3%) who the question applied to also reported freelancing supports their ambitions to keep doing paid work as well as parenting/caring unpaid work.

Gareth Jones, a Strategy and Management Consultant, says the variety of work available as a freelancer has been a huge draw for him.

“Shorter contracts and project roles have kept me producing my best work,” he says.

“I think inevitably professionals in long-term roles get stuck in a rhythm which can be stifling for creativity and critical thinking.”

Expert360 says 17% of those surveyed also reported the stigma of being a freelancer as a key barrier for Australian workers leaving their traditional full-time roles.

This suggests the broad perception of freelance employees is linked to lower skilled sharing economy roles, rather than the highly skilled white collar work that is being undertaken.

Bridget Loudon, the CEO of Expert360, says freelancing is a lifestyle which appeals to many professionals.

“Greater flexibility and autonomy are increasingly sought out by professionals. Not only does freelancing enable workers to pursue their desired lifestyle, it also promotes career satisfaction and lifelong learning that comes with diversity of work,” she says.

Expert360

However, flexibility and autonomy come with uncertainty.

More than a third (38%) of freelance professionals surveyed consider job security to be the biggest downside.

Other pain points include a limited sense of community (12.4%), concerns over payment terms (11.7%), and reservations over the increased admin load of working independently (11.7%).

Despite these barriers, 18.4% of respondents say no amount of money could entice them back into full-time work.

Digital Strategist Tiphereth Gloria says she began freelancing when she was pregnant with my daughter in 2014.

“Both the project work and the ongoing client work I did when I was a permanent full-time staff member for big agencies isn’t that different from what I do now,” she says.

“What is different is that I can now spend time with my daughter during the week either by working remotely or during the time in between projects.

“I might stay freelance for the rest of my career and I might not. What matters to me is being able to do high quality work.”

Expert360’s Loudon says that for many, the work life balance and career benefits they gain from freelancing far outweighs the lure of extra cash.

“The fact that almost 20% of respondents said no amount of money would entice them into full-time work and a further 28.6% said they’d need to be offered more than $100,000 annually, shows how committed they are to this way of working,” she says.

270 freelance professionals responded to the survey.

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