The gig economy is gathering pace. By 2022 it’s estimated that 7.25 million people are likely to be working in it in the UK alone.
Those working in the gig economy are paid for specific projects, or for completing set tasks, rather than the amount of time they spend at work. Freelancers, part-time workers, people with portfolio careers, those setting up their own businesses or side-lines are often involved in this type of work.
And whilst, on one hand, it can offer excitement and a world of new opportunities, working in this way can also be stressful, and even detrimental to your mental health.
So how do you get the best of both worlds?
The best place to start is to ask yourself whether this way of working is suited to you. Speaking to ID Magazine, psychologist Niels Eek said,
If you’re someone who enjoys flexibility and prefers having more freedom then working freelance may have a positive impact on your wellbeing…(However) you need to be ready to face the fear that you may not know where your next job will come from. For some people this lack of security and routine can leave people feeling they have no control over their own lives, and that can be extremely stressful.
It also makes sense to choose your timing wisely. Your early twenties are often a time of great flux. Work, relationships, friendships and living arrangements are often fluid and unfixed. But we all need some certainty, so try to keep at least a few of these elements stable. If, for example, you’re going through a relationship break-up and having to move out of the house you share, then now is probably not the best time to launch a freelance career.
Be mindful too that estate agents and landlords usually insist on a fixed source of income before renting out a property.
Speaking of money, the biggest challenge of the gig economy is to get paid on time. The Small Business Commissioner provides ten helpful tips on the issue. Number one is to agree clear payment terms; this means providing all your employers with a contract that clearly sets out your payment terms, which they should sign and agree to before you begin working for them. It’s also essential to invoice promptly and ensure all your bank details are correct on the invoice!
If you can, try to have at least one dependable income stream. The simplest way to do this is with a permanent, part-time job. And whilst data entry, delivering, or office admin might not set your soul on fire, they will help ensure the rent gets paid, leaving you free to pursue the work you’re really passionate about.
There’s another benefit to a part-time role as well. The consistent social contact can help you overcome isolation, one of the gig economy’s most challenging features.
Finally, if you’ve chosen the gig economy in order to pursue a burning ambition, such as freelance journalism, then make sure you LOVE the work itself! The gig economy is tricky enough to successfully navigate, so it has to really be worth your while.
And if it’s not, then walk away. Go try something new; because the beauty of this way of working is that you’re completely free to pursue the job that really does light you up.