Freelance workers have labelled ‘pyjama wearing’ as the most common stereotype they face in the workplace, finds new survey from contractor accounting specialists Crunch Accounting.

The survey conducted by Crunch Accounting quizzed freelance workers, including freelance IT consultants, writers and designers, about the most common career stereotypes they encounter.

More than a third (35%) said the belief that freelancers all work in their pyjamas is the most common misconception. This was followed by the belief that “freelancing is a job for people who can’t find full-time work” (27%) and “freelancing is a stop-gap to a full-time career” (20%). Survey respondents also regularly face the belief that freelancers aren’t as reliable as agency workers or temps (17%).

The overwhelming majority of the freelancers surveyed felt they still face career stigma, with three quarters saying they are not taken as seriously as employees working for larger businesses.

The latest ONS figures released today show the UK’s self-employed population has now swelled to 4.5 million, with one-person businesses now accounting for 14.8% of the country’s total workforce.

In the last six months the number of self-employed workers has grown at 1.5x the rate of permanent employees, with self-employed figures rising by 146,000, compared to 99,000 new permanent employees.

Darren Fell, managing director of Crunch Accounting, who ran the survey and offers accounting services for freelancers and one-man businesses, said:

“One person businesses are contributing more than any other group to the UK’s economic recovery and creating jobs even as permanent employment shrinks. As this survey reveals, the wider business community has yet to wake up to this new way of working. More worryingly, the Government continues to overlook the vital contribution freelancers are making, and routinely overlooks them when drafting small business legislation. The flagship Employment Allowance, for instance, totally excludes one-person sole traders.”

Yet despite the stigma the face, the majority of surveyed freelancers revealed they wouldn’t change matters. Nearly six out of ten (59%) said they would turn down a full-time, in house position – even if it came with a significant rise in pay!

* The survey by Crunch Accounting polled 280 freelance business owners located across the UK from 19 February to 11 April 2014 on Freelance Advisor. Full results below:

Do you think freelancers are still not taken as seriously as larger businesses?

  • Yes – 75%
  • No – 25%

What’s the most common misconception you encounter about freelancing?

  • Freelancers spend all of their time in their pyjamas – 35%
  • Freelancing is for people who can’t find full time work – 27.4%
  • Freelancing is a stop-gap to a full-time career – 20.5%
  • Freelancers aren’t as reliable as agencies / temps – 17%

If you were offered a full time, in-house position in your industry, would you take it?

  • Yes – I crave the job security of full time work – 9%
  • Yes – but only for a significant rise in pay – 32%
  • No – Nothing beats the flexibility of freelancing – 59%