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Gig Economy Is The Answer To Balancing Family And Working

Traditionally, managing this balance has meant tackling how to best make use of the time available away from work

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As companies push for longer work hours, how does one begin to better manage the balance between having a family and job expectations?

In late November 2018, Elon Musk tweeted that people need to work 80 - 100 hours a week to change our world. It's quite common to come across similar quotes from a whole range of entrepreneurs that stress how working long hours is a key to long term success. The pressure to work more has become the norm today and the numbers prove that the average work week is trending up. A recent Manpower Group study revealed that Indian millennials have the longest work week at 52 hours. The same study also interestingly reveals that around 50% of millennials are also open to alternative forms of employment.

The "Gig Economy" is a great avenue for such alternative work. This flexible work model allows individuals to choose what to work on, where to work from and to decide their own hours. It's been gaining momentum over the last few years and is set to grow in the coming future. One of the key personal attractions to this model is the ability to better manage a work-family dynamic.

Traditionally, managing this balance has meant tackling how to best make use of the time available away from work. If you are required to spend 8 to 10 hours a day working, that leaves a much smaller window to look into the needs that come with having a family. Furthermore, if both partners are employed, the issues are only compounded. The rise in popularity of the gig economy in part has been due to the flexibility that comes with more control in how you work. Let's look at how these benefits are helping individuals better manage a work-family dynamic.

The ability to work remotely:

A vast majority of the work opportunities in the gig economy can be fulfilled remotely. Freelancers are not required to be on-site 5 days a week. As long as projects are delivered on time, you have the ability to pretty much work from a location of your choice. This means there are many more hours available to be around your partner and kids if you choose to work from home. In addition, working at home can potentially save money in the long run by reducing the need for constant daycare for your kids. Even in situations where you may need to be on-site, the likelihood of it being for a long duration is small.

No Office Related Stresses:

Choosing a full-time career comes with a whole collection of office related issues. Interacting with different personalities every day can take a mental toll that leads to stress. Competing for a promotion with other employees can lead to an unhealthy combative workplace. Simply, you have to learn how to deal and excel in a game that is not directly related to your work output.

As a gig worker, you are solely responsible for your work. A client hires you to get a job done based on your skill set. There are no office-related distractions to lower your output. Adopting this style of work separates you from a stressful office dynamic, which has a positive effect on your family life.

Creating your own schedule:

If you are expected to work a minimum of 50 hours a week, expect to sacrifice important family milestones. Attending important school events, family functions and other extra-curricular activities are much harder with a full-time career. More often than not, you are expected to give a few of these a miss. Being a freelancer enables you to be part of these important milestones. This ability to create your own schedule empowers you to be more present in the lives of your loved ones. 

Technology makes gigs more efficient:

Platforms and marketplaces for gig opportunities are making finding and managing work more efficient for freelancers and gig workers. They can discover numerous opportunities on these platforms coupled with the flexibility of creating their own schedule, to make freelancing a full-time career. Features on such tech-enabled platforms reduce the time spent on planning, coordinating and tracking work completion to give these gig workers more time. 

Getting back to work:

Having a young family places, a much greater need to be at home. New mothers feel the pressure to get back to work soon to protect their careers. Looking at freelancing can help alleviate this pressure. The freedom to take on projects on your schedule allows for more time to be at home and achieve a healthy work-family balance in such cases. There are many diverse job roles being created in the Gig Economy that allows for new mothers and young parents to bring in income and be there for their children.

From the above, making the switch to the gig economy as a way to improve your work-family balance does hold value. However, there should be a level of planning and thought before diving in full time. Be prepared to dedicate time to freelancing seriously. Like all big decisions, a healthy discussion with your partner is advisable to avoid the perils that come with hasty actions. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
gig economy work hours job roles freelancer

Anju Kanodia

The author is Business Head of Wakency, an on-demand flexible work community.

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