The gig economy has become a lifeline for many people who want to break away from the nine-to-five routine. Anyone looking to leave traditional industries and working methods now have another outlet to make a living. In general, the gig economy presents an alternative source of income, another way to make ends meet and a new trend to earn a living. However, the gig economy hasn’t had an excellent perception among the majority of the world’s workforce, particularly where mental wellbeing is concerned.
Gig workers, especially in the food delivery industry such as Uber and Deliveroo, are facing wage issues and security worries, not to mention competition from new and upcoming startups. Airbnb also had its fair share of legal problems, from security and safety to cleanliness. Things haven’t been looking too good, but a ray of hope emerged from the pandemic. Specific sectors in the gig economy thrived during the pandemic, such as food delivery, package delivery, freelance services, sanitary and cleaning services, and other contactless services.
Recent studies conducted among workers in the gig economy showed remarkable feedback and progress, especially in terms of mental health. If working in your full-time permanent job isn’t cutting it for you, here are six signs that becoming self-employed could be your next career move to improve your mental wellbeing:
Increase your self-worth
Being self-employed can improve your ability to concentrate and stay focused on the tasks at hand. This, in turn, results in a more productive output and better quality of work. Better performance leads to encouraging feedback from clients and stakeholders, a self-confidence boost for the self-employed worker.
Increase in happiness
The very fact that self-employed workers do not need to adhere to certain restrictions in the traditional workforce has contributed to an increase in their happiness. Not everyone works well with a fixed working schedule. The gig economy with a flexible approach to working hours has contributed to happier workers. This is because workers can create their schedules to fit their needs. It has also presented the ability for gig workers to either work from home or reduce long commutes, again contributing to an increase in happiness.
Women’s mental health
Setting personal schedules has dramatically benefited women in the gig economy. The flexibility has also given women a direct connection to the workforce, increasing their sense of making a real and immediate contribution to the gig economy and the household. As women still bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities, flexibility has allowed them the autonomy to manage their time to complement housework and childcare. This is extremely vital to their mental wellbeing.
Self-employment creates greater life satisfaction
This research found that while these Uber drivers in London make less in monthly wages, they lead a greater quality of life. They have higher autonomy and lesser job requirements. Workers with a combination of low independence and heavy job requirements are often stressed and depressed. They have less control over their schedules, making them more frustrated. On the other hand, gig workers have a greater sense of control. They decide when they want to work and can also decide on the customers they interact with.
Because workers have greater control over working hours and their schedules, they also have a sense of greater usefulness. While most people end up in pubs at the end of the workweek, workers in the gig economy such as Uber and Deliveroo often work to deliver food or pick passengers during this time. This means less time spent drinking and less money spent purchasing food or drinks at restaurants. Reduced alcohol consumption has led to a remarkable difference in their mental health.
Making a difference, even in the smallest way
Workers in the gig economy are either by choice (leaving their 9 to 5, choosing a different path in life etc.) or need (retired and lack of income, disabled etc.). The gig economy has opened up doors to plenty of people who cannot meet the standard requirements of a full-time, traditional job. Mothers with young children can now earn money by renting a bedroom in Airbnb or driving customers through Uber. Retired people can make a livelihood by delivering food or even opening up their homes for Airbnb. Disabled people can offer freelance services through Fiverr or Upwork. There’s an opportunity for everyone to try something new and make a difference in the gig economy.
Sense of empowerment
When you can make your own money, pay for your bills and buy anything you want with the money you earned, you feel a greater sense of satisfaction and empowerment. This is because it makes you more independent. You don’t need to depend on anyone else for money to purchase things or pay your bills. Even more, you don’t need to ask for permission to spend on things you want. Adults who have lost their source of income feel helpless, which is why they turn to options provided in the gig economy to get back on their feet.
A chance to prioritize other areas of life
For many workers in the gig economy, the flexibility to decide their schedule allows them to focus on other interests in life. Some are artists who need the extra cash to pay rent. Other gig workers are avid hikers or mountaineers whose primary goal is to climb mountains- they would prefer spending more time practicing than working. There are also up-and-coming singers or actors who need to spend most of their time going for auditions before getting their big break. Becoming a driver for a limo service while studying to become an engineer is another way to upskill yourself without being broke. Participating in the gig economy to make ends meet is just one step to get to where they want to be in life.
The gig economy may not be a long-term career choice for many people. Still, it is a lifeline for those who need another source of income or an opportunity to make a change in their lives to better their mental wellbeing.