It used to be that a full-time office job was the height of stability, but in today's work-for-hire economy full-time employment no longer feels like a guarantee. And these days most of us have come to realize that balance is so important for both mental and physical wellness. So if spending 80 hours a week at the office is not necessarily a surefire path to a promotion, it's clearly time to explore other ways of working.
You may have read that the freelancer economy is on the rise and it's true. Around 1 in every 3 working Americans has bid the 9-to-5 grind goodbye in favor of something else. What that something else looks like really depends on the individual. Some of those people are on-site contract workers who are still doing the workaday thing, but on their own terms. Others are juggling multiple gigs in multiple spheres. And a few are entrepreneurs trying to build businesses of their own.
If you're tired of being tied to an office but you haven't made the leap into the freelance economy because you're addicted to that regular paycheck, here are some ways you can earn full-time money without the full-time stress.
It never hurts to check in with HR to see if your current position can become a remote working situation. It may be that your company has been toying with the idea of creating a telecommuting program and you've just put your name in the ring to be one of the first beta testers. And why not? With today's mobile technology, you can attend meetings, log in to on-site servers and connect with colleagues at a moment's notice from anywhere in the world.
Hang your shingle
Starting a business is no picnic and you may find you work a lot more than you did during your desk jockey days, but the feeling that you're doing something positive for your future changes everything.
If you have a marketable skill, use LinkedIn to network with other freelancers whose services are complementary because they can refer you to new clients. You can also try bidding boards like We Work Remotely, Authentic Jobs and Elance. When you're just starting out, become a pitching machine and bid on anything because the contacts you make may be as valuable as the cash.
When your skills aren't in demand, look for opportunities to start a sales business with low or no startup costs. If you're a natural hustler, find a way to sell something one group is giving away for free to another group who can use it. Or try your hand at direct sales. One of the world's largest direct selling businesses, Amway is an established option that offers its IBOs (individual business owners) tons of support.
What you need in both cases is an entrepreneurial spirit – that's what will keep you going when the deck seems to be stacked against you.
For those who get bored easily, there's always the possibility of working multiple part-time jobs like in-home pet care, driving for Uber, bartending and retail. It's a balancing act, sure, but one that can offer greater flexibility and in some cases, higher earning potential. The challenge is finding two (or more) jobs that don't involve arbitrary shift changes. A set schedule is a must unless you've got one job that's always during the day or on weekdays and another that's always in the evening or on weekends.
When you go all in, a non-traditional work situation may turn out to be the perfect solution to the tedium of the 9-to-5. The number one thing you'll need to succeed is dedication. If you give it your all, the returns will be phenomenal.