Self employed best-placed to avoid World Cup slump

Self-employed workers are less likely to experience a productivity slump arising from this year’s World Cup than their employed counterparts, according to one of the UK’s leading small business experts.

Award-winning cloud accounting software provider FreeAgent says that the popularity of flexible working schedules will mean that the UK’s self-employed sector will be protected from the problems that other businesses are set to face - such as additional workloads and productivity decreases caused by staff absenteeism.

Recent global research by Ipsos MORI has revealed that nearly one in four respondents state they will miss work during the World Cup in Russia - while some of those who don’t take unauthorised leave may try and sneak match-viewing into their work hours, which could dramatically cut their productivity.

In the UK, that means businesses look set to lose out on billions of pounds during the tournament due to unauthorised staff absences. Using a seven-hour average working day, researchers commissioned by calculated that fans would miss a total of 49 hours of work, of which 28 hours will be unauthorised. Taking into account average earnings of around £13.94 per hour, this means UK businesses could potentially lose over £13bn due to football fans pulling sickies during the World Cup to watch matches live.

However, FreeAgent - who provide cloud accounting software for small business owners, freelancers, contractors and their accountants - says that self-employment will be one of the few areas of the UK economy to remain relatively unhurt by the tournament, as many of these workers enjoy the flexibility to choose the business hours that suit them best.

And the firm adds that employers who provide flexible hours to their staff will be able to minimise the “cup slump”, as this will enable football-crazy employees to carry out their work duties during non-match time.

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent, said:

“It’s not surprising that employee absenteeism spikes during major sporting events, but few business owners are fully aware of the financial implications these absences can have on businesses. During this World Cup, the combined cost of sick days, unauthorised leave and employees surreptitiously watching games in the office when they should be working could well be in the billions.

“Employers that offer flexible working are likely to suffer significantly less financial damage from the implications of absenteeism during the tournament. But those who will be best-placed to enjoy the football will be self-employed workers, as they are able to choose the hours that best suit their lifestyles while still staying on top of their business.

“According to our own research at FreeAgent, we’ve found that 11% of working Brits plan to start their own business by the end of the year, and 8% plan to start their own business by the end of 2019. With over 32 million people currently working in the UK, according to ONS statistics, that means 3.5 million more Brits are expected to become their own boss before the start of 2019.

“Better work / life balance emerged as the primary motivation for becoming self employed, with 44% of those surveyed saying it was their top priority. As we shift towards a more flexible working culture, I expect businesses will feel the impact of employee absenteeism during major sporting events a lot less in the future.”

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