The Remote Freelancing Boom [Statistics & Report]

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You can download the slides of the Finxter Remote Freelancing Report here as a high-resolution PDF:

Study Findings

  • Observation 1: Paradigm shift towards remote + freelancing
  • Observation 2: Efficiency gains through remote work 
  • Observation 3: Efficiency gains through freelancing
  • žThesis: mega productivity surge ahead in the next decade 

Observation 1: The Paradigm Shift Towards Remote Freelancing

Normality of the organization of the world’s talents undergoes a massive transformation.

  • Normality before 2020: You work at a company location as an employed worker.
  • Normality after 2021: You work remotely as an independent freelancer on a per-project basis.

Here’s how the Google search trends looks like for remote work:

… and for freelancing:

Some of the most successful companies today are in the area of remote work and freelancing: Upwork, Fiverr, Zoom, and Atlassian—just to name a few.

So, how are the numbers—is freelancing really growing in the US? The answer is: YES!

And do freelancers really work remotly? Again: YES!

Now, let’s dive into the driver of this mega trend towards remote freelancing: higher life satisfaction of freelancers compared to employees:

Here are some more results of the McKinsey Study:

[Summary] Independent Work: Choice, Necessity, and the Gig Economy

  • 20 to 30 percent of the working-age population in the United States and the EU-15, or up to 162 million individuals, engage in independent work
  • The Freelancers Union estimates that 54 million Americans (22 percent of the working-age population) are freelancers or self-employed in their primary or secondary jobs.
  • At least 15 percent of workers use online platforms such as Uber and Upwork (in 2015)
  • 30 percent are “free agents,” who actively choose independent work and derive their primary income from it.
  • Approximately 40 percent are “casual earners,” who use independent work for supplemental income and do so by choice
  • “Reluctants,” who make their primary living from independent work but would prefer traditional jobs, make up 14 percent.
  • The “financially strapped,” who do supplemental independent work out of necessity, account for 16 percent.
  • Approximately 70 percent of Etsy sellers and 60 percent of Uber drivers in the United States have some other form of primary income.
  • 10 to 15 percent of the working-age population engages in independent work for supplemental income. The vast majority do so by providing services.
  • 2 to 3 percent of the working-age population in the US and Europe sell goods.
  • 1 percent of the working-age population in the US and Europe rent out assets.
  • A 2016 survey by Lawrence Katz and Alan Krueger found that the share of the US workforce engaged in “alternative work arrangementsgrew from 10 percent in 2005 to 16 percent in 2015.
  • 40 to 55 percent of low-income households engage in independent work.
  • Low-income households make up less than 25 percent of all independent earners.
  • Medium- to High-Income households make up more than 75 percent of all independent earners.
  • 1 in 6 workers in traditional jobs would like to become primary independent earners.
  • 50 million Americans and Europeans are independent out of necessity.
  • For every primary independent worker who would prefer a traditional job, more than two traditional workers hope to shift in the opposite direction.
  • Platforms for offering services, such as Uber, TaskRabbit, and Upwork, were used by only 6 percent of independent earners in the United States and the EU-15.
  • 232 million adults in the United States and the EU-15 are inactive, unemployed, or work less than full-time.
  • At least 100 million of them would like to start working or increase their hours (20 million in the United States, and 84 million in the EU-15).
  • Free agents have an average overall satisfaction rating of 4.9, the highest of any group, compared to a 4.6 average for those doing traditional work by choice. This result holds across income and age groups, suggesting that freedom itself has real value for free agents.
  • If everyone had the opportunity to pursue their preferred working style, roughly 40 to 50 percent of the working-age population in the United States and the EU-15 would be independent.

Observation 2: Efficiency Gains Through Remote Work

There are four immediate benefits from doing remote work—all related to not being in commute for an average of 52 minutes per day:

  • Direct gain 1: no commute time
  • Direct gain 2: save commute expenses
  • Direct gain 3: fewer accidents
  • Direct gain 4: save environment

Let’s dive into these gains one-by-one:

Let’s summarize our findings:

Observation 3: Efficiency Gains Through Freelancing

Conclusion