Does the Gig Economy Help with Work/Life Balance?

Work-life balance is an older term that was created to mean you were making sure both elements had an adequate existence in your life. Many would say that it is a pipe dream. Some people have an innate sense of being able to balance the two elements. Others are more challenged to not become workaholics.   The gig economy is recently cited as the way for anyone to get more work-life balance.  Now, being an active participant in the gig economy, I believe that is a myth. The gig economy can be just as brutal as working in a MegaCorp or a small business in trying to balance work and life.

What is the Gig Economy? The corporate workforce profile is radically and rapidly changing from formal long-term employment agreements to a sea of contingent workers and independent contractors. The Wall Street Journal estimates 1 in 3 US workers are now free-lancers. Corporations are paying purchase orders, not salaries. This is beyond Uber and AirBnB.   All types of people are working remotely and temporarily, without the security of employer-sponsored benefits.

In the gig economy it is often assumed you are always available to do work.   When it is all about the gig, there are no set hours of work time/off time, no paid vacation time. Sure, you can not work. But no-work means no-pay.  And sometimes the gig is not even hourly, but based on a project deliverable. Get the work done, no matter how many hours you put in.

The gig economy also means you are always in search of the next gig. No next gig, no-pay. Everything can become about connecting and every connection can become a selling connection.  I recently read a blogger who bragged about getting her next gig at a family wedding reception.

As a recovering workaholic, a gig economy can be a challenge. Saying no and keeping boundaries on work/life balance was always a challenge for me. It is easy to get caught up in the work cycle again. I am finding this the case as I do my consulting projects. Single-fee projects and my perfectionism-work-ethic are not a good combination!

Yes, as an early retiree, I’ve joined this phenomenon that is being driven by Millennials. I am an active participant in the gig economy.  (I feel quite hip saying that!)  And, I’ve heard the claims about this helping with work-life balance and I’m not sure it’s reality.  This past month I worked way too many hours.  If I continue doing consulting gigs, I’ll need to find new techniques for maintaining time for the elements of my retirement life style that I’ve learned to love (like blogging)!

 

Picture Credit: Pixabay

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7 thoughts on “Does the Gig Economy Help with Work/Life Balance?

  1. I agree with you. Unless the gigs pay outlandishly well, you are going to have to constantly be digging for the next one as you are trying to complete the current one. This would be especially true if you are trying to raise a family and pay for health and disability insurance (which would be crucial in this setting) and save enough to tide you over when there isn’t a gig on the horizon or if you’d like a vacation, etc. Sounds stressful to me. I don’t see this being a more balanced life, at least from the outside looking in.

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    1. Working – it’s a new world out there… and in many ways I’m glad I’m not having to deal with it. The continued downsizing of big companies has everyone living in an environment of fear. (New rumors say more packages coming, more things being sold off.) And as you point out, the gig economy feels very stressful. While I am living in it with my part-time work, I don’t need the next gig for compensation. In fact, after last month’s multiple project overlap, I’m looking forward to almost nothing on the plate for a few months!

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  2. I would be a horrible candidate for relying on the Gig Economy for work. Like you, my work-life boundaries are not great (huge understatement). I hope that you do carve out ample “me time” and “blogging time”. I miss your posts when you are away for awhile.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now the house move has taken over and my blogging is still suffering. My one a week post goal is looking like one a month these days… and like you I will be off the grid for a large part of July. At least the work load tapered off… and I’m not searching for my next gig at all!

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  3. I am very suspicious of the gig economy. There are no protections built in for the workers and, without them, it is easy to be taken advantage of. No vacation pay, no health benefits, no overtime regulations. It appears to be a win for the corporation and a loss of the workers. That’s not to say it can never work out (maybe it works for those of us who do not depend on a steady paycheck), but for most people – whether they depend on that economy to make money, or have lost revenue because of the gig economy has taken over their business – it’s a terrible situation.

    I enjoyed reading about your experience with it. I hope you write more as you continue to work in that arena.

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    1. It is also amazing to me the statistics that indicate this is the growing area and “regular jobs” as we knew them are going away. Living in it now, and not necessarily needing the next gig, I would not have wanted this to be my long term life style.

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