Many people work in traditional full-time, full year work.
What were the other 50% of us doing? We were working part-time, job sharing,
working from home, telecommuting, doing seasonal work, working casual jobs or
working on a contract basis.
What does all this mean? It means employers and workers in the New Economy
have to be flexible. The standard 9-to-5 jobs have given way to a whole host of
working arrangements. Some of these working patterns result in people sharing
jobs thereby employing more people; others help to reduce a company’s overhead
by saving on rent or travel expenses. Still others help to make better use of a
worker’s time by eliminating the commute or increasing time spent with
families. Here are some of the strategies that reflect a new attitude to work in
the New Economy.
Many workers are wanting to devote more of their time to personal activities
like education or raising children. For many, sharing a job with a co-worker has
been a way to continue employment while freeing up time. In these situations,
two people share all of the responsibilities, salary and benefits of one
full-time position. Many see job sharing as a way to increase employment,
employing more people in shorter work weeks. In most job sharing situations,
however, workers have to be willing to accept less in benefits and salary in
exchange for more time, an arrangement some people prefer.
There are many agencies which match the skills of workers with the temporary
needs of employers and arrange temporary work assignments. Temporary employees,
or ‘Temps,’ sample a variety of different companies and tasks but usually
lack benefits and regular schedules. Temp work can provide a wide-variety of
on-the-job experience and help a young worker get a foot in the door.
kind of like a salad bar. A little of this and a little of that, and it all adds
up to a career! For me, instead of having a full-time job, managing two or three
part-time jobs has brought me the variety, flexibility and experience that keeps
me going and makes me happy. There are a multitude of benefits from this type of
working style. For example, if you are someone who is multi-talented, a couple
of part-time jobs may enable you to use your favorite skills and interests in a
way a full-time job might not allow. If you crave excitement, part-time work can
offer you more freedom to jump into new opportunities.
In his book, New Rules, Daniel Yankelovich says that a shift is
occurring from an ethic of success defined as a high-paying job and a house and
a car, to success defined as a sense of self-fulfillment. This trend means
people are asking themselves what gives meaning and satisfaction to life. A
high-paying job and a climb up the corporate ladder may not necessarily fit the
bill. By investigating your full range of interests through part-time work, you
can put yourself in a better position to decide what your strengths are and how
you can best use them to achieve a sense of self-fulfillment.
I have a half-time job with a non-profit society and work the other half as a
consultant on short-term communications, research and human relations contracts.
I love the freedom that this working style permits me. Working with a variety of
companies and non-profit organizations, I’m always meeting new people,
learning about new projects and going to new places. I have the freedom to
arrange my own schedule, choose the projects I want to work on and manage my own
Part-time and contract working opportunities are everywhere. You can work for
someone else and have your own business. You can find a job through a friend.
You can work days, nights, weekends -- whatever suits you best. And by being
flexible, you have a great resource to offer your potential employers (and/or
clients) who may need you in an emergency or on a temporary basis. Your ability
to offer your time and skills on short notice gives you an advantage. Instead of
testing the waters of only one company, your feet are getting wet in many. You
are twice (or thrice) as likely to hear about job openings, can make more new
contacts and are well-situated for advancement if an opportunity presents
Part-time work is a great path to starting your own business. If you can
obtain at least one job that pays the bills, you can spend the rest of your time
pursuing your ideas, doing market research and getting your own business off the
ground. Call your business Anything Goes and work on contracts as a
landscaper in the summer and a researcher/writer in the winter. Make
arrangements to work from home part-time and see how you like it. Build a
clientele of businesses that like your style and often need your services. The
possibilities are endless!
If you are considering the option of a sampling of part-time and contract
jobs instead of one full-time job, remember: the skills you use and the contacts
you make will help you become more versatile, experienced and, most of all,
When extra staff is needed during peak seasons or when employees are absent,
many companies turn to their pool of casual or on-call workers. These are people
who are willing to work sporadically and often with very little notice. Not a
pattern for people who crave order and a regular working schedule, casual and
on-call work does provide on-the-job experience and can lead to work with more
Part-time jobs do not exceed 30 hours a week. Workers often use these
positions to gain industry experience and skills. While some part-time positions
provide benefits, the majority do not. Often, however, part-time experience can
lead to full-time employment.
Outdoor jobs that cannot take place year-round are very prevalent in the
tourism industry. For example, a ski resort may need many workers in the winter
and few or none in the summer, while a golf and tennis club needs many workers
in the summer and few in the winter. Often construction, road building, fishing,
agriculture and forestry jobs are also seasonal. This work is ideal for students
who like to work in the summer to earn tuition money or for multi-skilled people
who enjoy variety and are willing to do one job in summer and another in winter.
Leave of Absence
In order to take time for education, parenting, travelling or exploring new
career options, workers in some organizations can take a leave of absence. This
type of leave can provide employees with a few months or even a year away from
work without giving up their jobs permanently. While some employees are away,
temporary or contract workers are employed to fill the gap.
Working a flexible schedule, or flextime, usually means employees can choose
their own hours and create their own working schedules as long as the job gets
done. It’s evidence that companies are increasingly realizing that different
people work best in different situations and allowing them to choose their
ultimate working pattern will result in happy, productive employees. Some may
choose to work longer hours in exchange for days off, start work early in the
morning and leave earlier in the day or work a schedule that changes
week-to-week, depending on the demands of the job and other commitments.
Jobs which involve the transfer or input of information do not always mean
the employee has to be in the company office to get the job done. Telecommuting
means that rather than commuting via public transit or the family car, an
employee can stay home and communicate with the office using telecommunications
equipment like the fax, phone and e-mail. It’s also a way for workers who
travel to keep in touch while on the road.
Artists, writers, editors, photographers, computer consultants, business
consultants, researchers and graphic designers often work on a freelance or
contract basis, meaning they are not employed by a single company but work for a
variety of employers on a contract basis as opportunities arise. In this
scenario, “employers” become “clients” and along with the skills of
their specific field, contract workers must be adept at marketing their
expertise to prospective clients in order to secure “jobs” or
“contracts.” Contracts usually involve a limited time frame to get a job
done so managing deadlines is a critical skill.
Compressed Work Week
A version of flextime, some companies are compressing the same amount of work
hours into fewer days, enabling workers to enjoy three or even four-day
weekends. For example, employees may work four ten hour days per week instead of
five eight hour days.
THE CONTRACT WORKER:
views ‘employers’ as ‘clients’
sees knowledge and skills as assets
is excellent at time management
works as many hours as it takes to get the job done
uses marketing skills and initiative to secure contracts
is always on the lookout for potential working opportunities