Until recently, the overwhelming majority of the U.S. workforce was clamoring for a traditional 9-5 job that could be maintained until retirement. Today, the idea of the average “work life” is changing in accordance with priorities, and modern workers are searching for more flexible employment solutions.
As research continues to show that going freelance- instead of committing to a traditional W2 position- could lead to better health, productivity, and profits, it’s no surprise that the professional world is changing. In the past year, more than a third of the U.S. workforce has turned towards some form of freelancing, and self-employment levels are on the rise. Whether you’re a creative expert, a field service technician, or a mathematician, it might be time to leave your 9-to-5 life in the past.
The Problem with Traditional Employment
To most people, traditional 9-5 work is the natural or “normal” goal to aim for as an adult. However, while committing to working at least five days a week may seem like the easiest way to ensure a steady, and reliable paycheck, the truth is that long workdays are bad for your health , and even detrimental to the productivity (and success) of a company.
Creativity and Productivity Don’t Work “On Demand”
For some, a continuous 10-hour work day doesn’t make much sense. Not only do physical workers need time to recuperate their energy, but information workers are also restricted by a cycle of mental energy. According to an article published by “The New Yorker”, the brain is most effective when the mind has had time to wake up in the morning; in other words, working from 9-to-5 means that you spend the first couple of hours in your day struggling to make good decisions. Alternatively, shorter, flexible workdays such as those accessed by freelancers, allow for the consideration of peaks and troughs of motivation and energy. This also means that workers experience less stress as a result of being unable to force their brains to work according to a pre-set schedule, which results in improved health, including better sleep and improved cognition.
Long Hours Damage Health
Numerous studies have revealed that traditional workers feel exhausted. Not only do traditional workers struggle to get enough restful sleep to recuperate from their daily schedules, but they also don’t have the time to indulge in healthy activities – like exercise – that would improve their energy levels and overall fitness. Avoiding the agony of an early-morning alarm clock can significantly lower stress levels and contribute to a longer, happier life.
With so much stress involved with traditional work, it’s no surprise that the Annals of Internal Medicine recently published a study showing that longer work hours correlate with higher risks of heart disease and heart attacks. Simply put – avoiding traditional work could literally extend your life.
The Benefits of Freelancing Instead
Unlike the traditional 9-to-5 system, freelancing offers a flexible work pattern that gives workers the opportunity to maximize on their most productive periods and engage in healthy behaviors throughout their day-to-day lives.
Freelancing Can Lead to Better Pay
One of the biggest reasons that professionals might avoid seeking out a freelance lifestyle is the concern that traditional jobs might offer better money and stability. However, the truth is that you don’t need a set amount of working hours to live – you need a certain amount of income. Freelancing has evolved from a way to make a few extra bucks into a high-paying way for experts to use their skills in a thriving market. In fact, according to a freelancer survey, 78% of workers suggested that they earned more money freelancing for a year than they did in traditional employment.
Freelancing eliminates the expenses associated with physical office spaces, benefits, and employment taxes, which means that employers can pay higher rates for fewer hours of work. What’s more, you have more time as a freelancer to assess and manage your budget.
Better Work/Life Balance
The traditional work generation rarely considered the concept of “work/life balance”. Instead, you were simply expected to do the hours, manage the commute, and try to enjoy evenings off with your family. However, freelancing means that parents can attend functions at school with their children, and workers can complete projects in the same amount of time it would have taken to finish the morning commute.
Freelancing offers professionals the chance to enjoy their jobs and their lives at the same time. Instead of simply “working to live,” freelancers can access a market that fully appreciates their skills on a schedule that suits their needs.
Even though the traditional W2 traditional work week has been standard since the early 20th century, that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for today’s professionals. Working on a flexible freelance basis can give you time to live better, learn more skills, and invest in the important areas of your life while still ensuring you use your talents in a career you can truly appreciate.