Monday, March 30, 2009

A Lifestyle Choice? Or Simply the Future?

As you may know, I'm a freelancer. I work for myself, and I work from home. I took the leap in 2005 in attempt to create a lifestyle that fulfilled me. I'm still refining exactly what that is - words like "freedom" and "balance" and "travel" often tumble out when I describe it - but I know that what I want does NOT involve commuting, workaholism or rigid schedules. A tall order, yes, but I've avoided all three more weeks out of the year than I ever did previously.

What's interesting, though, is how the traditional workplace has evolved in some parallel ways during this same time period. Three years ago, telecommuting was a novel concept. Today, it's the next cost-cutting frontier. Similarly, freelancing was seen as an alternative career for risk-taking or niche tradespeople. Now, even "full-timers" are turning to freelancing as a stopgap, supplement or entirely new path during uncertain economic times. Freelancing has hit the mainstream, you could say.

After talking to some friends at career crossroads recently, I sense that the workplace is poised for big change, as are traditional gender roles. With men constituting 80% of those laid off since 2007, and more and more women taking on the breadwinner role, something's gotta give, right? How can breadwinning women (especially mothers) work insane hours and still handle 75% of "domestic engineering"?

I don't know how it will all shake out, but I see "flexibility" and "lifestyle" being the key words moving forward. For evidence, I humbly submit a few headlines that caught my eye this week. Take a gander and let me know what you think the future holds.

Freelancing: A Real Option
(Miami Herald)
As times get tougher, many are turning to freelancing and contract work, transforming a trend that was once a lifestyle choice into a matter of economic survival.

Telecommuting: Once a Perk, Now a Necessity (Business Week)
To cut costs, companies such as Capital One are pushing more employees, including even top managers, to work from home.

The Increasing Call for Work-Life Balance
(Business Week)
Work-life balance is now the second most important driver of employee attraction and commitment, says CEB research.

As Layoffs Surge, Women May Pass Men in Job Force (NY Times)
With the recession on the brink of becoming the longest in the postwar era, a milestone may be at hand: Women are poised to surpass men on the nation’s payrolls, taking the majority for the first time in American history.

Career Women at Midlife: Sadder and Sicker (Business Week)
While women are securing greater power in the workplace, they are also growing less satisfied with their lives as they age.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

I would love to find a career that allowed me more flexibility to schedule my life, rather than adhere to a time clock. Sometimes finding that niche is more than half the battle.