The gig economy is becoming more and more apparent in the modern era. Mobile applications for delivery such as Doordash and Postmates allow workers to make extra cash at night and also occupy some free time. For some, these side gigs or hustles as they are sometimes termed are just a quick way to distract yourself from your day job and save up for something special. Others actually use their side gigs for some purpose. Perhaps they are interested in opening up their own business one day and want more customer service experience.
Whatever the case, side gigs allow professionals the opportunity to step outside of their normal working routine and engage in something that has a certain utility function.
Balancing creative pursuits with an always-on culture
Even before the pandemic, technology has been seeping into our working lives, and smartphones have blurred the line between work and play time when bosses email us whether we are at home with family or on vacation. The psychology behind emailing actually puts pressure on employees to respond fairly immediately because receiving an email is not like receiving mail—you can’t lose an email that was sent to the right address.
In this light, some organizational cultures have focused on asynchronous communication, which is a definite plus, but for researchers and professionals who need to plug in to do their best work, finding creative pursuits outside of office/remote life is seriously important.
For example, whether it is a gig that professionals take up on weeknights to pass the time, or becoming a board member for some non-profit, these pursuits will enable our brains to think differently and act differently, and most importantly get us to step outside of always-on culture which is not as always easy as putting our phones on silent.
Engaging with new communities of interest through board memberships
Becoming a board member, or at least applying to be a board member for some non-profit can have great benefits, especially today. While this is probably an unpaid position, the benefit is not in receiving extra money, it is in networking, communication, and thinking about how to improve the effectiveness of the non-profit in question.
That effectiveness question is becoming more prevalent today because of how badly non-profits in particular have been hit by the Covid-19 crisis. Many streams of funding have dried up as donor valves have been cut off temporarily, and right now is the time when the non-profit community will have to re-think the social contract upon which they are operating.
For the analytical type, such a side gig can be a great avenue. It means being able to hear your own voice outside of your plugged-in working environment, as well as receiving oral feedback on your ideas.
For academics and researchers, feedback not only initiates a deep learning process, but also gives such left-brained individuals a space to reflect on how their ideas have taken hold over time as they enter this new setting. Oftentimes, when individuals join group therapy sessions on the side, they are forced to reflect on how different they feel in that moment compared to some other time period in their life.
Coming back to working life
New experiences that have been developed on the side or on weeknights might offer revelations about the importance of your day job or highlight the skills you already have. Unlike spending free time indulging with friends, which can be mentally draining and leave you worse off for the next morning, side gigs might offer a stimulating effect that motivates us to seek out change in the world or the organization we are working for.
In some regions, such as coastal cities in the U.S. for example, there is such an emphasis on work as the primary means for having a life, that it can be hard for individuals to step outside of such a routine to pursue some type of side gig. It becomes reinforced by family or friends who live similarly. But stopping to question how cultures of innovation emerge helps us realize that having a side gig or a way to activate our creative side can help us in multiple aspects of life.