IT workers go freelance for better lifestyle

A better lifestyle is the most important reason influencing IT contractors to go freelance, according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 contractors by services provider giant group has sown that 37 per cent listed lifestyle benefits, such as flexible working, as the main reason they opted to move from full time work to freelance. The second largest group, at 22 per cent, said freelance let them charge more for their work, while 15 per cent said reducing their tax bill was the main reason.

"Lifestyle and being able to get a premium rate have always been tops," said the group's managing director Matthew Brown. "How much of that is psychology as opposed to reality, I don't know."

He said that staff employees are less likely to get flexible holiday time than freelancers. "It's very difficult for employers to do that for permanent staff," he said.

Brown added that the study suggests that contractors are not primarily motivated by tax savings - something that has driven government policy.

Brown said: "It was feared that relentless challenges to contractors' tax status would drive IT professionals away from freelancing, but this research would suggest otherwise. Tax is an issue for every worker in the UK, but contractors still enjoy considerable lifestyle benefits and it is those benefits that really make freelancing worthwhile."

The survey also found that two-thirds of contractors believe they get more varied work as freelancers, and 57 per cent said they had more autonomy.

Brown said: "It is this variety of work which, apart from making freelancing stimulating, serves as a mechanism for the transfer of skills and often means contractors are one step ahead of their colleagues in permanent roles in terms of familiarity with the latest technologies. This is a critical weapon in the ongoing battle against skills shortages in the UK IT industry."