Why One-Third of Freelancers Are Prioritizing Children Over a Traditional Career

05/05/2016 03:17 pm ET Updated May 06, 2017

It's well-known that freelancing increased in popularity following the 2008 financial crash. There are now 15.5 million self-employed people in the US today. The biggest increase was seen among Generation X, better known as the people who got stuck between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials. A recent Toptal survey demonstrated that many of the newest freelancers are doing it almost exclusively for their kids.

This would put an end to the idea that people are doing it just because they want to be their own bosses. Family is increasingly taking priority in the freelance world.

So why are motivations changing as the freelance economy grows?

The Survey

Toptal was founded in 2010 and quickly joined the ranks of the Deloitte Fast 500. It's dedicated to providing mentorships and scholarship opportunities to freelancers trying to build their own businesses. This is a tight-knit community dedicated to making things happen.

The 2016 Freelancer Lifestyle survey was issued to 2,000 freelancers in 165 countries. The results were startling. These were the following three main conclusions:

• 91% of freelancers are from Generation X.
• 33% of these freelancers have children.
• 7% of people miss the office environment.

These survey results may put an end to many of the myths surrounding freelancers. But the question is why have these results appeared?

The Death of the Traditional Career

Part of the reason that a significant number of successful entrepreneurs are doing it for their children is because the traditional career has died. Baby Boomers knew they could walk into a job and then guarantee that they would retire with a great pension, after a lifetime of earning large salaries.

The perception was that you would have a career forever. For Generation X, they have had no such assurances. The 2008 financial crash saw many of them lose their careers. It didn't just force them into becoming freelancers for practical reasons. It altered their perspectives. It made them realize that the traditional career isn't as solid or as necessary as they first thought.

These changing priorities have come about partly because people have realized that what Baby Boomers have no longer exists.

Priorities are Changing

With the death of the traditional career, what employees really want is also changing. Baby Boomers were concerned with their careers and climbing the corporate ladder. Generation X has different priorities. More and more women are working, whereas with the Baby Boomer generation it was traditional for the man to be the main breadwinner.

These generational shifts have come together to encourage people to spend more time with the kids and less on getting that promotion.

These changing priorities mean that freelancing is growing, and as more people see the benefits of spending more time with the kids this industry is expected to grow at an exponential rate, while even ordinary companies are expected to change their work cultures.

It's Not a Detriment

The chance to be surrounded by your kids and see them grow up because you're not stuck in an office most of the time isn't a new ambition. Only now has it become a possibility.

It's easy to think that you have to make sacrifices in order to do this, but the numbers don't lie. According to the Toptal survey, 95% of respondents said they felt more productive working from home. 93% of this group also said the flexibility they had was a blessing, rather than a curse.

The big advantage to freelancing is the chance to carve out time for professional development. Freelancers have the time to join their peers to take advantage of mentorship opportunities.

It's why Toptal's daily events around the world have been such a resounding success. Professionals can connect and take advantage of new knowledge and a social atmosphere, without the need for the traditional office.

Despite working from home, Toptalers are just as tightknit as the standard office.

Why Freelancing from Home is Good for the Kids

Mixing work and family has always been a 'no go' area for many Baby Boomers. But people are starting to notice that this isn't always a bad thing. Toptal discovered that two-thirds of freelancers said that the fact they are at home most of the time means that the kids get a better deal. It benefits them because they are gaining more contact with their families.

Conclusion - Making It Work

What this survey shows is that people are shifting towards making their family a part of their work, rather than keeping the two separate. Although Generation X makes up most of the freelance population now, there's a strong chance that the trends set in motion will continue with millennials, as they continue to make up the bulk of the workforce.

It takes practice and many freelancers take a while to actually master this. What are your top tips for mixing home life with bringing up children?