More skilled professionals are rejecting the 9-5 and embracing the gig economy as a long-term career and lifestyle choice, according to global research by the Adecco Group and LinkedIn.

The study "Flexible Working: a career and lifestyle pathway" supports evidence that we are entering a new economic era where flexible working is becoming an attractive part of the status quo, rather than a stop-gap solution.

The Adecco Group research found that 54% of independent workers had embraced flexible working by choice to meet their personal needs and goals. Only 36% regarded it as a stop-gap between direct, permanent roles. 

About 15 million contractors are currently active in the US and Europe. According to LinkedIn data, a great share of those now forging careers in the gig economy are highly-skilled professionals, who are in part looking to achieve a healthier work-life balance. 91% of independent workers’ profiles on the social network are in their middle to late careers.

Furthermore, the Adecco Group’s research also revealed that 82% of 18-26 year-olds in flexible work aspired to be in independent employment, with 89% seeing it as a long-term career path.

Flexible working offers a huge and exciting opportunity for everyone in a rapidly-changing world of work. The emerging gig economy has the potential to grow to three times the size of the temporary staffing market,” said the Adecco Group CEO, Alain Dehaze. “However, much more has to be done at policy level to support independent workers, from fairer legislation and social benefits to providing better training. Flexible workers are shaping the future of work. It is time to dispel the myths, remove the barriers and help them get there.”

The Adecco Group is urging government and corporate policy to provide the same rights and conditions for flexible workers as those enjoyed by direct, permanent employees, especially in areas such as social benefits, annual leave, pensions and insurance.

Today, YOSS – a pioneering digital marketplace developed with Microsoft to connect freelancers and large companies – went live in France. YOSS gives freelancers access to the world’s biggest companies, guaranteed payment within 72 hours, opt-ins to social benefits and end-to-end administration. Backed by two industry leaders, YOSS offers companies access to freelancer talent, visibility of spending, best-in-class compliance and data protection.