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Has the COVID-19 pandemic given people the urge to work more?

According to one survey, the transition to remote work has resulted in many employees taking on freelance jobs (aka side hustle) in addition to their full-time jobs.


Paychex, a human resources provider, recently surveyed 1,000 professionals about freelance work, and the survey resulted in some interesting findings.

  • 82% of employed people are interested in freelancing in addition to their full-time job since the pandemic began
  • 59% of people working full time have started freelance work since the pandemic's onset
  • Over 2 in 10 employed people started freelancing during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 52% of respondents haven't told their full-time employer about their freelance work
  • 39% of respondents freelanced while on the clock for their primary job
  • Over 1 in 3 employed people intend on freelancing indefinitely
  • 54% of respondents have seen an increase in demand for their freelance services
  • 24% of respondents prefer their freelance work over their full-time job

Some of the most common freelance jobs include data entry, writing, editing, and marketing and public relations, according to the survey. All of these jobs are well-known for their flexibility.

All surveys have their limitations and don't necessarily tell the whole story, but one conclusion that can be drawn from this survey is that with increased work flexibility comes increased opportunity for employees to make additional income on the side.

One way or another, taking on a freelance job to go along with a full-time job can have an impact on your overall career. If you're a professional currently working a freelance gig with your job, or are considering it, here are a few things to keep in mind:

The Drawbacks Of Working Freelance Jobs

A young professional with a messy desk balances his full-time job with freelance gigs.

It can be argued that a few of the findings in Paychex's survey are concerning.

First, the fact that 39% of respondents freelanced while on the clock for their primary job is a problem. Additional work should be done on your own time, not while you're working your primary job.

It's not only wrong to work your freelance job while on the clock for your full-time job, but there's a good chance it will impact your job performance eventually, even if you think you have things under control.

In addition, professionals who haven't told their full-time employers about their freelance job could be asking for trouble.

With the increase in remote work flexibility, it's likely that more companies will be flexible about employees working side jobs (as long as it doesn't interfere with your work and the job isn't a conflict of interest/or competitor to the company), but it's important to know what the company policy is, and to keep the lines of communication open with your employer.

For those who work at companies that don't allow employees to work side jobs, you have to ask yourself if a freelance job is worth losing your full-time job over.

The Paychex survey also found that 24% of respondents prefer their freelance work over their full-time job. While freelance work is a great opportunity to explore your passions and other industries, if it ever reaches the point that you prefer it overwhelming more than your full-time job, it may be time to consider a career change.

Professionals that are considering freelance work indefinitely should do their research and take their personal situation into consideration. The freelancing market can come in waves and may not provide you with the same benefits and stability as a full-time job.

The Benefits Of Freelance Work

Some professionals have build successful careers working multiple freelancing jobs.

Those who take on freelance work or a second job are generally looking to make more money, which certainly has its own advantages. But, beyond making money, there are a lot of great benefits that can come from taking on this additional work.

  • Building skills - Perhaps you're seeing an increased demand for graphic design at your full-time job, so you take a freelance gig in graphic design to hone your skills. This is just one general example, but sometimes the varying responsibilities of your career make it difficult to focus in on one skill set on a daily basis, and a freelance job outside of work provides you with an opportunity to really focus on that one specific area.
  • Expanding your passions - Everyone has interests and passions outside of their primary careers, and if you can find a way to monetize those interests and passions, that's even better. This is called a hobby hustle, and it's something that you would do even if you weren't getting paid but you find a way to monetize it.
  • Testing the waters - Do you like your job, but don't love it? Sometimes professionals struggle with whether or not the time is right to make a career change. Taking on freelance gigs in industries that interest you can be a great way to gain experience and see if you're a fit for a job in those industries.

Freelance jobs can sometimes be a great way to earn income while looking for a full-time job. No matter the situation, doing good work allows you to build your professional network and potentially earn professional references.

How To Grow Your Career

Wouldn't it be great to make more money without taking on additional work?

Not everyone is in a position to take freelance jobs, or wants to take on an additional job beyond their career. Luckily, there are other ways to grow professionally and make more money.

If your career isn't growing, it's dying.

It's important to always be thinking of ways to advance your career and upskill. Some employers have very extensive professional development programs that give employees multiple training opportunities. Professionals also have the option of taking online courses outside of work.

Professionals should also have the occasional career discussion with their boss where they can talk about their goals and opportunities for growth. These discussions can provide professionals with a road map to promotions and more money.

With all the changes to the workplace brought on by COVID-19 in 2020, it's likely that flexibility and the rise of the freelance economy will continue to evolve. However, the one thing that will never change is the need for professionals to consistently grow their careers.

Whether it's by working freelance jobs, or by other means, commit to a career growth strategy.


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