How the side-hustle became the main-hustle.
Work is changing. Fast. For some, commuting to work means waking up, rolling over, and opening their laptop without leaving bed. LinkedIn profiles are getting longer and Instagram bios are maxing out as people take on more and more clients, side projects or start their own small businesses. What’s happening to the 9 to 5 day job?
The birth of the 9 to 5.
But do we still?
In the United States, the eight-hour workday was first introduced by the National Labour Union in 1866. Although their request to shorten the work week was declined by Congress, their efforts inspired Americans to support labour reform. During the 1870s and 1880s, after the NLU had disbanded, other organizations picked up where they left off. On May 1st, 1886, these groups called for a national strike in support of a shorter workday. As a result, eight-hour workdays were sporadically introduced into the workplace. It wasn’t until October 24, 1940 that the workweek was limited to 40 hours under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
This fan montage from the 1980 film Nine to Five is probably the best way to illustrate the style and struggles of life in a cubical.
But don’t worry Dolly, there is another way to work: freelancing.
The Millennial (a selfie).
The Millennial is a species of human born between 1980 and 2000 who is community-minded, digitally connected, and perhaps slightly narcissistic. They are liberal, exercise political correctness, and strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance. The Millennial watched their parents lose jobs during the recession. The 9 to 5 office job does not appeal to the average Millennial.
The Millennial grew up on the Internet, native to the digital world. The Millennial downloaded MSN, joined MySpace, and illegally pirated the Adobe Suite. They are natural networkers, extremely flexible, and (self) trained. And, they freelance. More than 53 million Millennials do it, making up about 34% of the American workforce. They contribute 715 billion US dollars to the economy annually, and are expected to make up half of the full-time workforce by 2020. Why?
Probably because it’s working. With the web as a catalyst, the Millennial works anywhere, at any time, for whoever they want. Growing up in a recession has taught them to fend for themselves, not necessarily a company. Investing less in a single client means less risk. By working on multiple projects at once, losing a job becomes part of the job instead of the end of the world. The Millennial has a prepared portfolio, specialized skill set, and has self-branded accordingly. They send machine-gun emails and wait for bites. And they get bites.
Companies outsource to freelancers. They are ultimately cheaper than hiring an employee and there are no strings attached—hire the same once, twice, or 10 times. They don’t need office space, and are quick to answer emails. There is little need to interview, and they are too easy to find. Hiring freelancers saves time (and time, as you know, is money).
For now, this new way of working seems promising. Millennials strive to define their work culture in a quest to find a meaningful career. If you have to work to live, why not do it on your own terms?
Get out there and make it happen.