According to a new survey from online employment platform Elance, freelancers are happier working as independent professionals (61 percent) than they are as employees (11 percent), and almost all of them (90 percent) cite the ability to take control of their own schedules as the best part of independent work.
Compensation may also be linked directly to job satisfaction as 47 percent of freelancers saw their income increase in the past 12 months, a number that will likely continue to rise as companies across the globe adopt flexible work models to meet their work objectives and grow their businesses.
"Many workers are seeking more independence in their professional lives," says Fabio Rosati, CEO at Elance. "With businesses increasingly hiring programmers, marketers, graphic designers and administrative talent in the cloud, a growing number of independent professionals who work online are finding opportunities that match their skills and talents."
Additional key findings from the survey include the following:
• Educated Faces of Freelance: Independent workers span across generations (Millennial: 26 percent, Gen X: 42 percent and Boomers: 31 percent). In addition, the typical online freelancer is highly educated: 80 percent of independent workers have a professional degree.
• Job Satisfaction: Freelancers rank high on the happiness scale: 80 percent are optimistic about their career path and 61 percent are happier working as independent professionals than as employees. Working independently is a career cornerstone for the majority of respondents, with twice as many preferring the freelance lifestyle (56 percent) over working full-time with one employer (19 percent).
• Career Reinvention: Nearly 1 in 3 workers began freelancing to be their own boss and work on the type of projects they love. The top benefits of freelancing include the ability to control their own schedule (90 percent), following their passion (87 percent) and eliminating the commute (85 percent).
• The Digital Work Revolution: 92 percent turn to online job sites as their primary method for finding work, and 41 percent indicate they are using social media outlets to land jobs. Only 22 percent use staffing agencies or recruiters and less than 10 percent rely on college job postings or job fairs to find work.
• No Paper Cuts: 65 percent feel that a digital profile, where independent contractors can showcase their talent online with verified work history, multimedia portfolio and tested skills, is more effective than a traditional resume (35 percent) in finding a job today.
• Closing the Commute: 65 percent state that telecommuting is a critical part of their career goals, while less than 7 percent want to work onsite at a company a majority of the time.
Elance conducted the survey from April 29 to May 10, 2011, and more than 1,500 Elance freelancers participated.