Flex appeal: why freelancers, contractors and agency workers choose to work this way

Working on a temporary basis is part of many people’s career paths. More than one in three people (36%) in Great Britain have worked as a contractor, freelancer or agency worker at some point in their career, and 41% are considering working that way in the future.

This is according to a survey of more than 4,000 people conducted by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation as part of its research project “Flex appeal: why freelancers, contractors and agency workers choose to work this way”.

Key findings from the research include:

  • One in four (24%) has been a temporary agency worker
  • One in ten (10%) has worked as a contractor
  • One in ten (11%) has worked as a freelancer
  • 22% of people who currently earn more than £50,000 have been agency workers
  • 36% of people who currently have hiring responsibilities at work have been an agency worker themselves

As well as surveying the general public, the REC interviewed people about their experiences working in a temporary capacity. Flexible working is central to understanding why they choose temporary work. Temporary, freelance and contractor roles provide opportunities for people to work more flexibly and have more choice over their work-life balance.

The research found that temporary work is particularly beneficial for people at four points of their working lives:

  • Entry level workers
  • People with specialist skills
  • Adults with caring responsibilities
  • People approaching retirement

The REC has also drawn up some recommendations for recruiters, employers and the government about what each can do to address the challenges still faced by people who choose temporary work, and what needs to happen to ensure people can continue to benefit from working in a flexible way.

Download the full report here, and for recruitment of specialist skills, as well as flexible management and executive resource via Executives Online’s interim management practice, contact us.

Executives Online thanks the REC for this research and its website content which this blog post quotes liberally.


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