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10 million American workers are considering freelancing amid the 'Great Resignation'

Business Insider logo Business Insider 8/4/2021 fagustin@insider.com (Francis Agustin)
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  • Workplaces are beginning to reopen, but a growing number of professionals are not excited to go back to the office, a new survey finds.
  • Companies' return to office settings is a driving factor fueling a move to remote freelancing.
  • With workers putting a premium on remote work, companies and employers may need to rethink their approach to working in person.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

As workplaces begin to reopen from the COVID-19 pandemic, more skilled professionals in the US are choosing freelancing as their main source of employment, according to a new report.

Upwork, a freelancing platform that connects professionals with businesses, surveyed workers who spent most of their time working remotely the past year. Most people are considering freelancing to prolong their remote working conditions, according to the findings which were released this week.

Applying the report's findings to Gallup data, 10 million Americans are projected to be seriously considering the move to freelance. Of those who already plan on quitting their current full-time jobs, 52% are considering the move to freelancing. The main incentive: flexibility.

"The [COVID-19] pandemic gave people a chance to try being remote, and they like it because of the benefits that it brings," said Dr. Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork.

People who have seen the value of work-from-home benefits, like increased personal time and the lack of a commute, are even willing to trade away traditional work benefits, like health insurance and pay. Nearly a quarter of respondents, or 24%, say they are willing to take a pay cut to work remotely, and 35% would consider it, the report shows.


Video: Up to 10 Million Americans Turn to Freelancing Amid The Great Resignation: report (Yahoo! Finance)

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Workers have gained more agency over their work life, deciding when and how much they work. "It reflects a change in mindset and priority for some workers," Ozimek added.

An Upwork report from last summer saw a surge in the number of professionals entering the 'gig economy' due to remote work. And this trend doesn't seem to be dissipating any time soon.

As more professionals add value to remote work and flexibility, employers may have to rethink their approach to hiring and retaining their workforce.

"Employers that do not leverage freelance talent will be missing out on a growing chunk of the labor force," Ozimek said in the report. "This will be even worse for those who also insist that work must be done in person."

The desire for work flexibility is among a number of factors driving the 'Great Resignation,' with unemployment insurance, supply shortages, and temporarily tight labor markets also contributing.

Read more: More people are being asked to work from home - here's how to do it, according to our remote editors and freelancers

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