Many people dislike their jobs. Over the last 20 years, Gallup surveys on workplace engagement have consistently revealed that at least 65 percent of employees are not engaged, if not actively disengaged, with their jobs. The causes for this hate of work are varied, personal, and multifaceted—perhaps a bad boss, an interminable commute, or intense emotions of loneliness at work. Perhaps the root of the problem is something simpler but more pernicious: a lack of enthusiasm for your work.
Many people reach a point in their careers where even the most fun-loving teammates and compassionate employers aren’t enough, and what they do. While young people join the workforce with a focus on their professional ambitions and aspirations, evidence suggests that as they progress in their careers, they become more concerned about the impact they have on the world. In some situations, this transition is the catalyst for someone to begin pursuing their genuine passion, which may include leaving the secure confines of a company for the precarious perch of independent employment in the gig economy.
The gig economy is booming thanks to the rise of online platforms like Uber, Airbnb, and Fiverr. According to one survey, almost one-third of American employees work in the gig economy, either full-time or part-time. While many people laud the positives of the gig economy, such as increased flexibility and autonomy, there are also several drawbacks, such as job insecurity and uncertainty about the future (e.g., lack of retirement savings, career growth).
The Three Connections
Identity refers to how a person defines himself or herself in general and in specific areas of life, such as the workplace. Despite the drawbacks of having a routine 9-5 job in an office, these positions do give people the opportunity to develop a secure professional identity based on their work relationships, the organization they work for, and their occupation.
How can gig economy workers maintain their identities when they aren’t surrounded by and supported by a multibillion-dollar corporation? A group of outstanding organizational scholars recently tackled this subject in a remarkable qualitative study of 65 independent workers.
We have a routine at work: we get up at the same time every day, maybe go for a short run, get in the car, and listen to the same podcast. Routines help to define and stabilize organizations, which is in line with their bureaucratic nature; they also aid in mood regulation.
Working from home may appear to have .freedom, and it is in some ways. What could be more convenient than taking a conference call from the comfort of your bed? When the lines between work and home life blur, however, it can result in a plethora of issues, including decreased productivity and an inability to “switch off” at the end of the day. It is recommended that gig economy workers set up a separate workspace, ideally outside of their homes, but at the very least in a location with physical separation, to keep their “work-life” and “home life” separate.
Core Sense of Purpose
Last but not least, it’s vital to keep a strong sense of purpose. Many people join the gig economy not because they don’t like to work or because they can’t stand having a boss; they join so that they may live the life they desire and, in the end, pursue their passion as they see fit.
The finest organizations do an excellent job of connecting each employee’s work to the organization’s overall goals. When you’re not surrounded by an organization, it’s up to you to keep an eye on your north star to be productive and keep poisonous negative feelings away.
Gig Economy and Freedom
One of the most significant shifts in the world of work that we will witness in our lives is the advent of the gig economy. Instead of being forced to work for huge corporations, vast swaths of industrious individuals may now create their schedules and work from anywhere they want. It isn’t all fun and games, though. While some freedom is desirable, too much freedom can lead to a sense of disorientation if guardrails are not in place.