Flexible working can be liberating but also career limiting

Epson research reveals that freelance working can lead to career compromise and skill decay

Flexible working can be liberating but also career limiting

Flexible working can be liberating but also career limiting

Epson research reveals that freelance working can lead to career compromise and skill decay

The freelance economy is on the rise as professionals opt for independent, flexible working to achieve career fulfilment and a better work/life balance – and Epson is supporting this workforce with an EcoTank Pop-Up, in London’s Covent Garden, providing a co-working space for freelancers, bloggers, remote and hot-desk workers.

Despite the rise in freelance workers, new research from Epson has revealed that freelancing can lead to career compromise and skill decay. The study, which surveyed 1000 UK freelancers[i], found that nearly a third (29%) of freelancers feel their career progression has been stunted, whilst over a quarter (27%) have admitted that they have de-skilled since going freelance.  In response to these figures,

Epson is also hosting a series of expert-led workshops at the EcoTank Pop-Up. Included in the program are talks on subjects particularly helpful to the self-employed, with the aim of giving them the support and knowledge that will help them prosper in their careers.

These figures revealed in the research are disheartening, particularly as 41% of respondents chose to freelance to get the career they wanted. Given that flexibility and adaptability are key to freelance success, these findings flag an important issue. The skills that clients need from their self-employed workforce constantly change with the evolving global, digital and economic business landscape, and if freelance workers can't respond to that by investing in their own professional development, they leave themselves very vulnerable – especially given the wealth of competitors on offer.

Annika Fagerstrom, head of consumer products at Epson UK, says, “Self-improvement is rarely at the top of a freelancer's 'to do' list, largely because there are a dozen other tasks there already. Freelance workers quickly discover that they must become a 'jack of all trades'; handling their own accounts and taxes, office equipment, marketing and IT, and fitting all of this in around their paid commissions. Small tasks mount up quickly, so it's no surprise that many find it hard to attend training courses as well. If self-employed people can minimise those small tasks, for example by ensuring that their office equipment is reliable and hassle-free, it can make a big difference to a freelancer’s day-to-day workload.”

Printing is a good example of a pinch point for many freelancers. Epson’s research has revealed that 40% of survey respondents print everything they need to, regardless of cost, because they need to 'get it done'. Yet the cost of printing is a concern to over a fifth (22%), and so prohibitive for 13% of respondents that they admit to saving their printing until they are in an office environment where they can print for free.

Located in London's iconic Covent Garden at 21 Long Acre, London WC2E 9LD, until 28th October, Epson’s EcoTank Pop Up provides not only a unique retail experience, but also a co-working space where flexible workers such as freelancers, bloggers and owners/employees of small and medium-sized businesses can work and meet with like-minded peers. Visitors have free access to secure Wi-Fi, unlimited printing, as well as a kitchen stocked with refreshments to keep themselves going.

Epson’s EcoTank Pop-up is fully stocked with the latest EcoTank models, which workers can try out and buy. Each Epson EcoTank printer has an ultra-high-capacity ink tank system, which completely removes the need for cartridges and, depending on use, may hold as much as 94 cartridges' worth of ink.

“Not only does this remove the need to regularly buy and store new cartridges, it can also generate substantial cost savings — and that really matters when you are the person paying for the office equipment!” comments Fagerstrom.

Epson’s series of expert-led workshops are being held throughout September and October — you can find out more by clicking here.

Notes to Editor

There are a few things that you can do to remain top of your game when it comes to your freelance career – as well as making day-to-day admin tasks easier to pave the way for those all-important work commissions:

  • Invest in training courses to make sure that your skillset is as advanced in possible – this can also include free and online qualifications.
  • Make invoicing and admin as manageable as possible by implementing payment and order processing systems that will take the headaches and hassles out of day-to-day manual tasks.
  • Network, network, network – events are crucial to raising your visibility in the industry and helping you land those jobs. Make sure you shout about yourself online, too – use social media to spread your skills!

Invest in the right equipment. Your tech set-up – both for working at home and remotely – is the foundation of your work, so spend the money where it counts, and don’t forget to upgrade as you go. Promotions and trade-in programmes will help mitigate the costs.  

[i] Methodology and sample

Epson worked with Arlington Research to conduct 1000 interviews in the UK using an online methodology amongst a nationally representative sample of freelance workers. All respondents were employed/self-employed/a business partner or owner. Quotas were applied to gender, the age of respondent and the region in which they reside to ensure that the sample is nationally representative.