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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 among the growing number of workers looking for more flexibility to deal with changing family and personal needs, or seeking better work-life balance.

Alternative ways of working shake up the traditional concept of holding the same full-time job or staying in the same occupation over the span of your working life. This growing range of work alternatives opens up a number of options about your work and how you do it. For example, instead of working full-time for 1 employer, 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: working full time for more than 30 hours a week, or part time for fewer than 30 hours a week, for a single employer. Advantages include security, a predictable income, benefits (fewer benefits for part-time workers) and a feeling of belonging. These are often offset by limited control and flexibility.

  • Multi-tracking: working in two or more work roles at the same time (for example, working part time for two employers, or holding down a job and running your own online sales business as well). Multi-tracking allows you to pursue a variety of interests, gives you the security that comes from having more than 1 source of income and increases your flexibility. Some drawbacks are the increased pressure on leisure time and the need for strong time management skills.

  • Job sharing: sharing with 1 or more people the responsibilities of 1 job for a single employer. Job sharing has the same advantages and disadvantages as full- and part-time work, with 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 option provides variety, a feeling of independence and flexibility. Drawbacks include unpredictable income due to long gaps between contracts, 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, unreliable income, 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 and the disadvantages of self-employment.

  • Consulting: working to complete specific tasks within specific time frames on numerous projects for a number of clients. This option offers variety, flexibility and independence. Offsetting factors are constant pressures to find the next project, long hours, increased administrative tasks and an unpredictable income.

  • Entrepreneurship: working as a self-employed person but also hiring others (for example, owning a franchise business). It has the same advantages and disadvantages as self-employment. Entrepreneurship involves greater financial risk, including 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 by focusing on the work you want to do, rather than the job you want to get. Expanding the way you think about work can increase your chances for creating balance and finding success in all aspects of your work and life.

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