The gig economy: juggling jobs brings its own challenges

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The gig economy: juggling jobs brings its own challenges

If you’ve set up and are running your own fledgling business, it may well be that you’re also holding down another part-time job – to bring in a steady income – and/ or looking after the kids while you work from home…

An interesting piece in The Guardian looks at the so-called ‘gig economy’, and explores the particular strains and challenges – as well as the rewards – of organising your life this way.

It’s important, it seems to suggest, you remember to look after yourself.

Gig economy thriving

‘In a world of Uber and Deliveroo, the gig economy is thriving’, starts The Guardian piece, ‘– it is estimated 1.3 million people are now working two jobs or more. Such workers are sometimes called “slashies” – think barista/blogger, charity worker/Uber driver or SEO manager/delivery biker.’

Whether this captures you at this moment, it probably reminds you of others you know, or a previous stage – start-up, for instance?

‘Many in this category can be classed as freelancers,’ it says, ‘a group that has increased in number by 43% in less than a decade’ – that, it adds, is according to a survey by IPSE.

And it’s not youngsters who are living like this. ‘The group is diverse: almost half are aged between 40 and 59 and 20% are over the age of 60. One in seven freelancers is also a working mother.’

Choice or necessity?

The Guardian draws an interesting distinction between those, it says, who choose this lifestyle and those who feel they have no choice.

Here’s Jonathan Taylor, Senior Psychologist at Pearn Kandola, quoted in The Guardian:

‘Feeling that you have have to for financial reasons is very different to supplementing your income with a second job to allow you to pursue your passion.’

Why?

‘If it’s a deliberate choice, it can be liberating… A sense of control is central to psychological wellbeing.’

Either way, the piece seems to make clear, the lifestyle brings its own challenges – not least, juggling the hours, not working more than is really sustainable…

Case studies

The Guardian interviews three people living with multiple roles. All seem to feel they’re thriving on the pace and variety:

• ‘Richard McColl, 40, is a British, Colombia-based hotelier, foreign correspondent, author, PhD student and travel guide. “I love the pressure of being freelance,” he says. McColl works from home, as does his wife, and he enjoys being able to see his two-year-old son during the day’

• Ruth Thomson has two children, and various other roles. ‘She is a learning designer (designing and creating online training content) for Digital Mums, digital marketing adviser for The Soap Co, and founder of Social Social.’ Her feeling? ‘I don’t want to be defined by a single job and would find a hierarchical work structure restrictive’

• Omar Mohamed is ‘a charity worker and Uber driver from London’. ‘He works three days a week in his paid charity role at the Haringey Somali Community Centre and around three nights a week as a cab driver’, and says ‘It can be hard at times, but I like the flexibility and the extra money’

Read more about each of these three over in The Guardian piece.

Watch your health

As for more general advice, if these lifestyles sound anything like yours, there is some – including financial.

Watch your health, first: ‘even those energised by a slashie lifestyle need to factor in downtime’, says The Guardian. ‘You could be clocking up more hours than a full-time worker. The current Working Time Regulations stipulate that we should work no longer than 48 hours a week and have a 20-minute break every six hours.’

How does your week match up?

Jonathan Taylor again. ‘While the general pace of living has increased significantly over the last 20 years, our bodies have not – we’re simply not designed to work consistently, at high intensity for long periods of time.’

And it’s not just a matter of getting decent nights.

‘Taylor points out that while the importance of sleep is long recognised, psychologists are increasingly interested in the role of recovery in waking hours. He advises taking time to detach from work by exercising or pursuing interests outside of work. This is key to maintaining your ability to perform effectively under pressure.’

Again, how does this resonate with your routine?

Watch the money

Another concern is, of course, coping with the finances. For a start, the uncertainty. (As Richard McColl put it, ‘Regular pay would be nice, though.’)

The Guardian confers with Adam Waters, Senior Policy Adviser for IPSE, who acknowledges the particular challenges. ‘Freelance income isn’t always regular or consistent. And, alongside professional duties, the self-employed have responsibility for running their own business.’

‘This means keeping accounts in order, searching for new business, and making sure you stay up-to-date with the law’, the piece quotes Adam Waters.

Navigating tax

One last expert. Emma Bartlett is Partner at Charles Russell Speechlys law firm. She warns about the dangers of navigating tax.

‘If you have more than one employed position, the second employer will not be able to apply your personal allowance (£11,500 untaxed) so it might feel like a harsher rate of tax is being applied to your second job’, she warns.

You also need to be aware of where you actually sit: self-employed, or part-time worker? Or an element of both?

Here’s Emma Bartlett.

Self-employed or worker?

‘A self-employed person is someone who doesn’t fit into the worker category’ – i.e. ‘It will be a person who is genuinely in business on their own account; a person providing professional or business services to their clients or customers.’

On the other hand, a worker has ‘some limited rights’.

‘These include the right to the minimum national wage, protection from discrimination, working-time rights (eg holiday pay, rest breaks), health and safety, and statutory sick pay.’

There’s lots to think about – even as you live the dream. (If that’s what you’re doing!)

See the full piece over in The Guardian.

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