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The loneliness of the freelance worker

September 10, 2018

A new survey commissioned by Epson EcoTank has revealed both the highs and the lows of 1,000 freelancers in the UK.

Epson explains that “the solo self-employed are now a vital element of the UK economy”, with an approximate contribution of £271 billion ($350.3 billion/€302.6 billion) last year – around £125-140 billion ($161-181 billion/€139-156 billion) of which came from freelancers. But with predictions that half the workforce will be freelancing by as soon as 2020, the OEM took a look at the challenges and benefits of freelance work.

The survey found that most (91 percent) worked from home at least some of the time, explaining that a better work/life balance (53 percent) and greater flexibility (62 percent) were among their reasons for doing so; some said they wanted to avoid working in an office, which they found stressful (47 percent).

Although 54 percent of respondents described freelance life as “liberating,” 48 percent admitted it was “lonely,” with 46 percent describing it as “isolating.” Furthermore, 32 percent confessed to missing “office banter” whilst 29 percent said they missed being part of a team.

This has potentially damaging consequences on the mental health of freelance workers, with a quarter revealing “frequent periods of depression” whilst slightly fewer, 21 percent, claimed that remote working’s loneliness had led to suicidal thoughts.

According to mental health charity Mind, “at least one in six workers is experiencing common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression.” The charity has published a series of tips on overcoming these problems, available online here.

Reflecting on the results of the survey, Epson UK’s Head of Consumer Products, Annika Fagerstrom, said: “It’s very clear that the leap into self-employment brings many changes, most of them beneficial. However, for those lacking structure or support, solo working can be tough. Epson wants to be part of that support system and help the UK’s hard-working community of independent, flexible workers to thrive.”

Fagerstrom continued: “That’s why our EcoTank Pop-up, which will be in London’s Covent Garden throughout September and October, will provide a welcoming space where freelancers, bloggers and other self-employed people can take advantage of the facilities on offer — including unlimited printing on Epson’s latest range of EcoTank printers — while meeting their peers in a relaxed environment.”

Categories : Around the Industry

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