Why are working mums looking to the gig economy?


More working parents are ditching their 9-5 jobs for more flexible working

A landmark report by McKinsey this week has confirmed what most working parents already know – that working mums (and some working dads) are embracing the gig economy and ditching the traditional 9-5 jobs they had before children. The report shows that finds that up to 162 million people in Europe and the United States—or 20 to 30 percent of the working-age population—engage in some form of independent work.


What is the gig economy?

The gig economy is essentially working flexibly, working for yourself, and in many instances pursuing multiple income streams. Companies such as Airbnb and Uber are often cited, as they allow people to essentially work for themselves, choose their hours and manage their time. Some people argue that the lack of well-paid permanent work is forcing people into zero hour contracts and self employment, but for many parents, who find working traditional hours nearon impossible once they have children, the gig economy can offer some very attractive opportunities, and they don’t have to be badly paid either.

So why would you ditch the 9-5 job?

  1. To reduce childcare costs

    For most people going back to work childcare is the biggest cost (and therefore the biggest barrier). Working traditional 9-5 hours in an office means you’ll need full-time childcare, to cover your working hours, plus your commute, as well as all the school holidays. It also means you’ll struggle to attend school events. Working for yourself, or being self employed gives you control over the hours you work and can reduce the need for childcare.

  2. The chance to experiment

    Many of us are unable to simply translate our former careers into family-friendly work patterns, which means there is a need to think creatively. Many people, rather than simply doing one thing, try a number of different avenues to generate multiple income streams. It might be a bit of teaching, consultancy, some investing, perhaps some selling or blogging. Some might work, some might not, but by working for yourself you’re no longer tied to an office, doing one job that’s not stretching you anymore.

  3. To be more successful

    How much do you actually get to do at work? Many of us reach a plateau, especially once we have children when it becomes more harder to climb the career ladder or get promoted. Once we have children, it becomes harder still, with the constant trade-off between home and work life. If you’re finding you’re coasting, working for yourself may actually boost your CV and your future career prospects. Speaking at the Stylist Live event, female entrepreneur Cassandra Stavrou said she always looked favourably at people who had left a job and set up on their own, even if they failed. It proved they weren’t risk adverse, and had an entrepreneurial outlook.

  4. To choose your colleagues

    This is a personal one, but working for yourself gives you the opportunity to choose who you do business with – how and where you work (at home, or in a shared space) and who you work with. It might be that you have an online network that supports you, you might choose to work with friends and share childcare. You’re no longer tied to a certain chair on a certain floor. Working for yourself opens up endless opportunities, and the chance to meet new people (which is especially attractive if you are considerably older or have different obligations than many of your colleagues).

    Flexible working and the gig economy are likely to become the norm as we move away from a traditional economy to a digital one, and as many could argue, as more people are affected by redundancy, by the need to care for children and elderly relatives, and also as the UK economy trundles towards the uncertainty of Brexit.

    What do you think? Are you working for yourself or do you have multiple income streams? Maybe you blog but your income comes from training or consultancy. What are the best areas to investigate if you want to earn a decent salary, and have something to build on once your children leave home? We’ve done some great interviews with women who are already running their own businesses and working freelance – let us know if you are doing the same.

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