After nearly a decade of service in the U.S. Army, Tiffany Green’s life was changed forever when she received custody of her 2-month old nephew and became a mom. Now her son is 14 and attends a homeschooling program that better suits his learning style. Tiffany ensures his grades stay high, and she’s always around to help him through his classes.
For Tiffany, flex work has made it possible to juggle the demands of being a single parent while bringing in steady income through warehouse and event staffing jobs. It may seem counterintuitive, but for her and many other parents, flex work offers stability amidst the unpredictability that comes with childrearing.
Tiffany is one of a growing number of American workers who are choosing where and when they work. Fifty-eight million Americans, or 36% of the labor force, now say they are working for themselves. These jobs vary from drivers and service workers to teachers and freelance creatives — and all have become essential to our economy. Flexible work is becoming the norm not just for salaried and office workers. It’s increasingly a reality for the hourly and deskless workforce. This is the future of work.
Still, misconceptions persist about the flex workforce: workers are unreliable, gigs are temporary, and most people would prefer something permanent. The reality is different. Our portfolio company WorkWhile, an hourly labor technology platform, recently conducted a comprehensive survey of over 1,300 flex workers, providing valuable insights into their preferences and needs, and challenging prevailing fallacies around flex work. Here are takeaways from the report.
Myth 1: Flex work is a side hustle.
Reality: Flex work is becoming the norm — and especially important for families.
A majority of respondents (63%) have been working in flex roles for over a year, with 29% engaging in flex work for three years or more.
Flex work is increasingly important for families, allowing parents more freedom to deal with unexpected events, like a sick child, and otherwise make room for quality time with their children. Not surprisingly, just 5.6% of women with children said they preferred traditional work over flex work. This is consistent with recent surveys and commentary about flexible work is key to retaining women, reducing burnout, and making it easier to fulfill caregiving responsibilities.
Myth 2: Flex jobs are unsustainable.
Reality: Flex workers earn just as much, if not more.
Over half (51%) of respondents are making the majority of their income through flex work. And with 73% of respondents reporting that flex work paid at least as much or more than traditional jobs, it should come as no surprise that only 8% preferred traditional employment.
Beyond the freedom of choosing one’s own hours, flex work also offers an additional layer of security during times of financial crunch, allowing workers to scale up their hours for life’s unexpected expenses. Eighty-four percent of respondents said they were very likely or likely to take a shift to cover an important expense or a bill.
Myth 3: Flex workers are unreliable.
Reality: Treating workers well and accommodating their needs results in a more reliable workforce, which ultimately means better business results.
Flex work is often mistakenly viewed as a stop-gap or last-resort measure, leading employers to believe that flex workers are unreliable or even temporary.
WorkWhile’s platform provides access to vetted workers combined with essential prediction data that indicates the likelihood of a worker showing up, ensuring exceptionally high fill rates. Businesses can depend on these results and confidently forecast needs thanks to its 83% accuracy rate across 77 different variables.
The future of work is here, and it is attracting large swaths of talent who want the ability to fit work into their lives — not the other way around. It’s valuable and sustainable not just for workers and their families, but for companies and employers as well.
Check out the full report from WorkWhile to learn more about America’s growing flex worker population and meet some of the amazing individuals who are living life on their terms.