ResearchFreelancer workers are ‘lonely, anxious & depressed’ – says survey

Survey uncovers the effect of working freelance has on mental health.
Content Team5 years ago6 min

A new survey concludes 64% of freelance workers regularly feel lonely due to their work – and further 59% say they suffer from work-related anxiety.

The study, undertaken by The Leadership Factor (TLF) and commissioned by Viking, surveyed 1,500 freelancers and office-based workers. The research sought to uncover the effect of working freelance has on mental health whilst also comparing the positives and negatives of working freelance to being an office-based worker.

60% of freelancers say their quality of sleep is negatively affected by work.

– The Leadership Factor (TLF) Survey commissioned by Viking

The effects of spending long days working alone means that 56% of freelancers said they suffer from depression as a result of their job, with a further 62% saying they feel stressed due to work. This is compared to office-based workers, where less than one-in-three (30%) said they suffer with depression and just 55% feel stressed.

Switch off? Never!

The survey also found that freelancers find it harder to switch off from work when on holiday. Three-in-ten (30%) freelancers take their work laptop on holiday, with over half (54%) reading work emails and 48% replying to them. In comparison, less than half (13%) the number of office-based workers take a laptop away, 36% read emails and 30% reply.

Just 15% of freelancers said they avoid work altogether when on holiday, meaning that 85% never take a complete escape from their day-to-day routine. When it comes to office-based workers, 42% said they avoid work altogether. Despite this figure being lower, it still shows that 58% of the population aren’t taking a much-needed break to recharge batteries.

Loneliness is the problem

Loneliness was a common theme in the responses from freelancers. As well as 64% saying they feel lonely on a daily basis, when asked to rank the worst aspects of being a freelancer, feeling lonely at work was chosen by 53% of respondents. The lack of support for mental health issues came fifth in this list, showing that freelancers feel unsupported when it comes to this issue.

64% of freelancers say they feel lonely on a daily basis.

– The Leadership Factor (TLF) Survey commissioned by Viking

Bob Huibers, Marketing Executive at Viking, said about the research, “Freelance working is often seen as the dream working scenario, where you can set your own hours, choose your own clients and avoid that dreaded daily commute. We wanted to find out whether it lives up to this reputation and uncover some of the challenges faced by freelancers.

“We were shocked to see that so many freelancers suffer from mental health problems linked to their work, the solitary nature of being a freelancer and feeling unable to switch off on holiday. This research shows how it’s vitally important to get the right work-life balance and look after your mental health, no matter what industry you work in.”


The Leadership Factor (TLF) Research carried out the survey on behalf of Viking. The survey was carried out online – questions were asked of 1,500 workers in the UK during September 2019. This was split between 750 freelancers who work in usually office-based vocations and 750 workers who are currently employed in an office-based role.

To discover more content on stress, click here

Viking is a global company, established in 1960 and now present in over 11 countries worldwide. It is part of Office Depot, one of the largest suppliers of office stationery and products in the world.

Content Team

Work in Mind is a content platform designed to give a voice to thinkers, businesses, journalists and regulatory bodies in the field of healthy buildings.

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