Going freelance boosts mental health of over half of workers

Updated: Aug 23


Transitioning to freelance work has boosted the mental health of workers across the country, according to a new survey.


The COVID-19 pandemic has seen millions of people struggle financially as companies streamlined workforces to deal with the economic impact of the virus.


For those that did not lose their jobs, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has offered a lifeline to just over 11 million people, with current figures from the Office for National Statistics showing that just under 5 million people remain on furlough.


The period since the pandemic began has also seen a rise in freelance workers seeking alternative or complementary streams of income which, according to a new survey, has proven to be mentally beneficial for many.


Conducted by digital accountancy firm Bokio, the survey of 1300 freelancers from across the country found that 53% of workers said that becoming their own boss positively impacted their mental health.


For respondents who had never considered freelancing prior to being furloughed (60%), almost three-quarters (74%) said they were happy with their choice to do so and two-thirds (66%) said they were happier than when they were in full-time employment.


In comparison, 33% said the decision to turn freelance had a negative impact on their mental health.


"Turning freelance is a brave decision to make in anyone’s career, but, as with most risks, there can be great reward," said Viktor Stensson, CEO and co-Founder of Bokio.


Read more: Stress levels have increased, but mental health stigmas prevent workers from sharing concerns

In comparison with full-time employment, freelancing can bring greater job insecurity with many freelance contracts operating on a far shorter notice period than full-time positions.


In addition, freelancers are unable to take paid holiday and lose out on other benefits like company pension schemes – downsides that can push many away from self-employment or directorship of small companies.


However, freelancing also tends to bring higher rates of pay and a lower segment of salary being lost to taxation, as well as a greater sense of control over working arrangements.


For 67% of respondents, being furloughed was the primary reason for going freelance, with 60% of workers taking up a post within the same industry as their full-time job.


One in four workers (27%) stayed in the same industry but changed roles, while just over 1 in 10 (13%) changed industry completely.


Written by Marco Ricci

Editor and contributor for Talking Mental Health