Remote working boosts flexibility and productivity among the self-employed, new research by IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) and People Per Hour has found.

The report

found that freelancers overwhelmingly viewed remote working positively, with nine out of ten (87%) working remotely at some point in the last year. Self-employed people cited many advantages to remote working. Asked to choose their top three, 55 per cent included the fact that it gave them greater flexibility, 34 per cent said it made them more productive, 43 per cent said it saved them time and 41 per cent said it improved their work-life balance.

Chloé Jepps, IPSE’s Deputy Head of Research, commented:

“This research shows what an important advantage remote working is for the self-employed, improving everything from flexibility to productivity.

“Government should strive to ensure this remains a positive way of working for everyone – not only by promoting co-working spaces across the country, but also by guaranteeing reliable broadband and making sure clients understand the needs of their self-employed remote workers.”

The report also found, however, that remote working can pose some challenges for the self-employed. Encouragingly, one in five people said they had not experienced any disadvantages of self-employment. The rest, when asked to name the three top disadvantages, cited difficulties communicating with clients (27%), difficulties getting regular feedback (27%), loneliness (19%), disconnectedness (19%) and not feeling part of the team (26%). To combat the challenges of remote working, the report recommended:

  • Roll out superfast broadband across the UK: 78 per cent said reliable broadband was the most important requirement for remote working. The Government should continue to commit to 100 per cent access to broadband by 2020 and ensure that all parts of the UK – including hard-to-reach areas – have access to super-fast broadband.
  • Promote co-working spaces: 76 per cent of people said they had not used a co-working space. Past research, however, has shown that they are one of the most effective ways of combatting isolation and loneliness. Government should promote co-working opportunities and explore ways to incentivise the creation of new co-working spaces.
  • Promote more client support: One of the key difficulties with remote working is maintaining effective communications with clients. Government should explore ways to make sure remote workers have access to the networks and communications channels they need to work effectively off-site. They should also be encouraged to better understand the needs of self-employed people and remote workers.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour, commented:

“It is really encouraging to see how remote working is being embraced by the self-employed and the businesses that hire them. Businesses who are open to working with remote workers gives them access to a wider pool of the best talent.

“It is now important for government to help with the infrastructure needed to make this way of work sustainable. Better and faster broadband access as well as better access to shared workspaces would be a good start.