Read the findings from our new global research

  • Over half of under-30s say they are more likely to enter non-traditional work as a result of the pandemic, new global research shows
  • A third of full-time workers say they are more likely to participate in non-traditional work following the pandemic
  • Around half of all respondents say better employee benefits would make them more likely to consider non-traditional work
  • More than three quarters (79%) of people currently in non-traditional and part-time work say there are gaps in their benefits
  • South Africa has highest proportion of workers more likely to enter gig economy as a result of COVID-19 while the UK has the lowest – 59% vs 18%

More than half (53%) of under-30s are more likely to enter non-traditional work such as contracting, freelancing or gig work due to COVID-19, according to our new global research.1 This potential shift in working patterns is not only seen in younger workers – more than a third (35%) of all respondents say they are likely to consider non-traditional work as a result of the pandemic.

The study found that even a third (34%) of those currently in full-time employment say they are more likely to participate in non-traditional work. We looked at workers’ attitudes across eight countries including the US, UK, France, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, the UAE and Indonesia and found that if non-traditional work offered employee benefits even more people would be tempted. Around half of respondents said they would consider a switch if benefits were available.

More than a quarter (29%) of respondents aged 39 or under said they are currently working in non-traditional ways, three times more than those aged 45-59. Overall, 17% of those surveyed are working in flexible, gig-based work, with half of the respondents stating they have worked in it at some point – illustrating just how large the non-traditional employment sector has become.

The impact of the pandemic on attitudes to non-traditional work is particularly strong in Mexico, the UAE and Indonesia where 40%, 41% and 49% (respectively) report they are more likely to take part. South Africa’s attitude to the gig economy, however, stands out from the rest. The majority (59%) of respondents report they are more likely to participate in non-traditional work because of the pandemic, with 39% reporting that they are much more likely. 

The current state of the gig economy varies greatly internationally. In South Africa (60%), Mexico (65%) and Indonesia (66%) respondents have participated in non-traditional work the most. In contrast, the majority of respondents in France (73%), the UK (65%), the USA (60%) and Spain (56%) have not participated in non-traditional work.

Mattieu Rouot, CEO, MAXIS GBN, said: “It’s becoming more and more apparent that the way people work is changing for good. We all know the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for change towards flexible working, but what might be a surprise is that more people are moving away from full-time employment. As our new research found, more workers are considering the gig economy because of COVID-19, rather than seeking the safety of full-time employment and the benefits that go with it. We’re living in an increasingly flexible world and people want a working experience and benefits that match it. The big challenge ahead for everyone involved is how to provide the benefits needed to protect those considering non-traditional work.”

Non-traditional work and benefits

The study found that 47% of all respondents report they would be likely to consider non-traditional work if companies provided suitable benefits. This figure rises to 56% for those aged 18-29 and 48% for those currently in full-time work. Even among those working for global multinationals, 46% report that they would be more likely to participate in gig and contract work if companies provided appropriate benefits for non-traditional workers.

According to the research, those in gig work are still significantly underserved in terms of benefits. More than three quarters (79%) of people currently in non-traditional and part-time work say there are gaps in their benefits; rising to 86% for 18-29-year-olds and 83% for female respondents. The most commonly identified gaps in benefits are private medical insurance (23%) and pensions (27%), with over half of respondents identifying these areas as lacking.

Overall, 43% of respondents believe it is the responsibility of their employer to provide effective benefits programmes for non-traditional workers, around twice the number who think it should be up to the state/government (24%) and significantly more than those who think the responsibility should lie with the worker themselves (14%). When it comes to the most valued benefits, pensions are cited by 40% of respondents, ahead of private medical insurance (36%), life insurance (29%) and financial wellness (28%).

Helga Viegas, Director, Digital & Innovation, MAXIS GBN, added: “What’s also apparent from this research is that one of the major reasons people taking up non-traditional work isn’t even more common is the lack of benefits for these workers. In particular, the security offered through pensions and private medical insurance appears to be highly valued. But, as the workplace continues to change and more people opt for a new way of working, employers need to adapt and expand their benefits packages to accommodate non-traditional workers and put the right systems in place to deliver them.”

1 MAXIS GBN conducted research with 1,205 employee workers in October 2021 based across the UK, USA, UAE, France, Spain, South Africa, Mexico and Indonesia with equal weighting across regions. The research was undertaken online by an independent third party.

For media enquiries please contact 

Nick Spearing / Kate Ross

MAXIS Global Benefits Network – [email protected]  

This document has been prepared by MAXIS GBN and is for informational purposes only – it does not constitute advice. MAXIS GBN has made every effort to ensure that the information contained in this document has been obtained from reliable sources but cannot guarantee accuracy or completeness. The information contained in this document may be subject to change at any time without notice. Any reliance you place on this information is therefore strictly at your own risk.