Working for yourself can be an organisational and financial challenge at times, but new research suggests that contract and freelance workers are reaping the rewards when it comes to job satisfaction.
Picture by valter
The 2010 iPro Index (iPro stands for independent professional) surveyed 372 self-employed workers across Australia, including 76 working in IT and communications, to assess their overall job satisfaction. The research was sponsored by Entity Solutions (which provides employment and management services for independent workers), and carried out by Monash University. While both numbers might sound small, research lead Dr Tiu McKeon says they are large enough for statistical validity relative to the general population of independent workers. Given Lifehacker's tech focus, I've concentrated on the IT workers here.
The most notable feature which separates IT workers from the more general run of contractors/freelancers/independent professionals is the importance which they place on being able to work independently. 86% of IT freelancers identified a sense of freedom as being an important consideration in working for themselves, compared to 36% for the group overall.
It's often assumed that people become freelance workers either because they've lost a job or because they can't find full-time work. While those factors can come into play, they weren't a major element for most independent geeks. Amongst the IT-specific workers, only 18% said they had pursued independent work after losing a job, and 70% said that difficulties in finding permanent work were not a factor in their decision to work as a contractor.
Whether they work as geeks or not, freelancers seem happy with the results. 88% of the total group surveyed said they were happy with working independently, and 85% feel enthusiastic about their job.
One of the odder questions in the study asked independent workers which animal they thought most closely matched the personal characteristics needed to succeed in self-employment. Cuteness aside, that does provide some means of assessing whether you could make the switch from full-time to part-time work. Here's what came up for the IT workers (respondents could choose more than one animal):
- 68% chose a chameleon for its ability to quickly adapt and change.
- 28% chose a tiger, for being powerful, energetic and alert
- 33% chose a dog for being hardworking, loyal and friendly.
- 25% chose a peacock, for being widely recognised and admired.
Assuming you have the right personal characteristics and a readily identifiable, marketable skill, then working independently offers major benefits. We've offered plenty of hints on the issues associated with going freelance, but your own insights are welcome, as always, in the comments.
Lifehacker's weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.