There is an old saying ‘business and family don’t mix’. But it seems like that timeworn proverb is no longer a motto to live by. The global upsurge of freelancers in the workforce is heavily driven by people wanting to achieve the exact opposite. The 2016 Freelancer Lifestyle Survey by Toptal found that many people are leaning towards making their family a part of their work day rather than keeping them separate.
Why this change?
According to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 93% of couples with children have one or both parents working; 62% of these families have both parents in the workplace. With figures like these, it’s no wonder there’s a need for flexibility and increasing desire to work from the home. And that’s where freelancing comes in.
The Toptal study, which surveyed 2,000 freelancers in 165 countries, found that family is holding a precedence for many in the freelance world. Over a third of the freelancers surveyed have children and within this group, 31% choose freelancing over traditional employment specifically to spend more time with their kids.
Freelancing definitely allows for greater work-life balance than does the traditional job. But hasn’t it always? What’s sparked this change in workers’ priorities? Much of it comes down to the changing of the guard…that is Generation X taking over from the Baby Boomers in the workplace.
The Toptal survey found that 91% of freelancers are Gen X: the generation which turned the tradition of the man in the household, being the family breadwinner, totally on its head. Gen X have different priorities to former generations. They know that a job for life is no longer a reality, they are less concerned with climbing the corporate ladder and more focused on family time.
This is not to say Baby Boomers don’t appreciate a work-life balance. It is, however, more easily accessible today, thanks to the growing gig and open-talent economy.
When it comes to work-life balance, freelancing offers more than just the perk of ‘working from home’. This increasingly popular work arrangement also gives workers the freedom to work on their own terms, in line with their own schedule. It allows for a level of flexibility not achievable within the traditional employer/employee relationship. With this degree of freedom on offer, it’s no surprise 93% of those surveyed favoured the flexibility freelancing permits as opposed to the office environment.
For working parents, freelancing is definitely a legitimate career move to achieving it all; both a family and career. And with 66% believing their kids are better off because of their flexible work arrangements, it’s hard to argue that it’s anything but a great move.