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Understand Different Types of Work

The global economy, the 24/7 work week and rapidly changing technology are some of the many forces that are shaping the way Albertans work. The traditional “9 to 5, 5 days a week” job with a single employer at a specific workplace is now only 1 of an increasing number of ways to work.

This is good news if you’re one of the growing number of workers looking for more flexibility to deal with changing family and personal needs, or seeking better work-life balance.

Traditionally, a person would hold the same full-time job or stay in the same occupation over the span of their working life. Alternative ways of working are shaking up this concept. This growing range of work choices opens up a number of options about your work and how you do it. For example, instead of having one full-time job, you may be happier working part time and starting your own consulting business on the side.

Check out these work alternatives:

  • Full-time and part-time work: full time means working for more than 30 hours a week for a single employer. Part time means working for fewer than 30 hours a week, for a single employer. Advantages include security, a predictable income, and benefits (fewer benefits for part-time workers). It also provides a feeling of belonging. These are often offset by having a lack of control and flexibility.
  • Multi-tracking: working in two or more work roles at the same time. This could be working part time for two employers. Or it could be holding down a job and running your own online sales business as well. Multi-tracking lets you pursue a variety of interests. It gives you the security that comes from having more than 1 source of income and increases your flexibility. Some drawbacks are more pressure on leisure time and the need for strong time management skills.
  • Job sharing: sharing the responsibilities of 1 job for 1 employer with 1 or more people. Job sharing has the same advantages and disadvantages as full- and part-time work. But it also has the added challenges of ongoing communication with your job partner and the added benefit of your partner’s support.
  • Contracting: working for a specific employer for a set length of time. This choice provides variety, a feeling of independence and flexibility. Drawbacks include an unpredictable income due to long gaps between contracts. It also comes with a lack of benefits and limited security.
  • Self-employment: marketing and delivering services or products in a one-person operation. Many home-based businesses are examples of self-employment. This option offers flexibility around the type of work you do, and where and when you do it. Challenges include the need to constantly find clients for your products or services, long hours, a financial investment and unreliable income. It also comes with administrative chores, such as tax preparation and bookkeeping, and no benefits.
  • Talent pooling: offering services or products as part of a group of self-employed people with common interests and different talents. Talent pool members direct opportunities to each other and provide services for one another’s clients. For example, a wedding planner may be part of a talent pool with a caterer, a photographer and a floral artist. Talent pooling allows you to specialize, reduces work search time and creates opportunities. Challenges include the need for good teamwork skills. It also has the disadvantages of self-employment.
  • Consulting: completing specific tasks within specific time frames on numerous projects for several clients. This option offers variety, flexibility and independence. One disadvantage is the constant pressure to find the next project. It also comes with long hours, increased administrative tasks and an unpredictable income.
  • Entrepreneurship: working as self-employed person but also hiring others. (An example of this is owning a franchise business.) It has the same advantages and disadvantages as self-employment. Entrepreneurship involves greater financial risk. This includes the responsibility for other people's livelihoods, but it also offers more income potential.

Consider the work alternative that’s right for you

As change continues to shape the work world, you may be able to tap into its potential. Focus on the work you want to do, rather than the job you want to get. Expand the way you think about work. It can increase your chances for creating balance and finding success in all aspects of your work and life.

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