About 10 million American professionals now working remotely would consider becoming freelancers if called back to the office, evidence that the country is on the cusp of a “Great Resignation.”
That’s the finding of a survey from Upwork titled “The Great Resignation: From Full-time to Freelance.” It showed that 20 percent of U.S. professionals would consider such a move to maintain a remote-work environment.
That would represent a 17 percent gain in the freelance workforce in the U.S. from the 57 million who freelanced in 2019 and before the pandemic struck in 2020, Upwork said.
A Microsoft report already found that 41 percent of the global workforce would consider leaving their current employer within the next year, while a Monster.com poll found that 95 percent of workers are at least contemplating a job change.
The Upwork report found that 17 percent of professionals, or about 9 million workers, may look for another job if forced to return to the office. Among those who are definitely planning to leave their jobs, 52 percent are considering freelancing.
The Delta factor
“Many professionals are not happy about the prospects of returning to the office after the pandemic, and are looking for more remote and flexible options,” Upwork Chief Economist Adam Ozimek said in the study. “Freelancing has always been a career path that provides these benefits more than traditional full-time jobs. Our report indicates that this heightened interest in freelancing is likely to expand the size of the freelance workforce.”
The findings come as many employers begin reopening offices even as the coronavirus resurges because of the highly contagious Delta variant.
According to the poll, 34 percent of those who have been telecommuting aren’t excited about returning to the office, compared with 24 percent who are. The rest are neutral on the subject.
In fact, 15 percent are willing to take a pay cut to continue working remotely and 26 percent would consider it, the survey showed.
A hybrid work option isn’t exactly overwhelming employees either. Almost a third (31 percent) of those who are heading back to the office only part-time are unhappy about it, the report said.
The Upwork-sponsored survey polled 4,000 adults over the age of 18 between June 14-July 16, 2021.