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How is life for self-employed workers?

Being self-employed is a way of life for almost five million people in the UK now, with some deliberately opting for a life of working independence and others being forced to adopt it.

Figures released by the Resolution Foundation this week said average earnings for self-employed workers are now lower than in 1994-95 but that the UK's self-employed workforce had grown by 45% in the past 15 years.

How has the life of a self-employed worker changed over the years – and what benefits or drawbacks does it bring? Some have shared their stories.

The session singer

Sam Blewitt

JANINE RASCH

"Payments to session singers have increased little in real terms in the past 20 years"

Payments to sessions singers have changed very little in real terms over the past 20 years, according to Sam Blewitt.

The Twickenham-based singer has been self-employed for 30 years and has sung with Madness, The Streets, Dizzee Rascal and Ultravox, as well as on soundtracks for films, TV shows and commercials.

"There have been good times and bad, but generally, I am working for the same as I was 10 or even 15 years ago," said Mr Blewitt. "I do believe I was earning more 20 years ago.

"Then the added impact of the change in people's music-buying habits have really changed the way self-employed musicians and singers earn money. My publishing income from music sales is virtually non-existent these days."

The cleaner

Darren Smith

DARREN SMITH

On his 40th birthday Darren Smith decided to make some major life changes including giving up his job in a large shop-fitting company to set up his own cleaning business.

"I was living my life out of a suitcase week in, week out, and though the money was good, when did I get the time to spend it?" said Mr Smith, from Eastwood, Nottinghamshire.

He got a part-time job packing computer components to ensure he had some money coming in while he worked on building up a client base, which involved designing leaflets and delivering them himself.

Nine years on Mr Smith – although earning less – says his decision to become a sole trader was the right one.

"I've taken a big drop in wages, but I have cut my cloth accordingly," he added. "My partner and I live a frugal, but in my eyes, a very rich life. My work-life balance is much better, and yes, there are times when I'd pack it all in tomorrow, but doesn't everyone have days like that?"

The homeopath

Suzanne Wright

SUZANNE WRIGHT

A patchwork career is a modern way of balancing motherhood with work

Suzanne Wright found that when she became a self-employed homeopath her hourly rate was actually higher than when she was employed as a part-time distribution manager. So while her income dropped, it was because she was working fewer hours.

The mum-of-two from Northampton decided to work for herself because she and her husband found it difficult to arrange flexible childcare for their primary school-aged children.

"A lot of people have started up as self-employed in recent years," said Mrs Wright. "Many, like myself, are mums seeking to work for themselves so that they can manage their working hours around school times, so that they can be with their children.

"A patchwork career is a modern way of balancing motherhood with work – it generally means less income, but also more family time."

Mrs Wright said she does have to spend additional time working on marketing and keeping her financial records up-to-date: "I get more career satisfaction now because I'm building something of my own. My husband is in full-time, permanent work, so I do know the mortgage will always be paid."

The shop owner

Chris Petterson

CHRIS PETTERSON

For the last decade Chris Petterson has owned and run three greeting card shops, but found he had to use his pension from a previous job to supplement his income.

Mr Petterson, from Wakefield, North Yorkshire, has had to work full-time in one of the shops himself but has only been able to pay himself less than the minimum wage.

He said: "I have eight part-time staff but the costs with pay changes and pensions has gradually risen as have rates, rent, utilities, whereas business has plateaued over the same period.

"One of my big frustrations is the unfairness of business rates. I have two shops of similar retail space, but one shop has a rateable value of £6,000 whilst the other is £13,500."

However, he said the positive side of being self-employed was being able to spend more time with his grandchildren.

If you believe that my message is worth spreading, please use the share buttons if they show on this page.

Stephen Hodgkiss
Chief Engineer at MarketHive

markethive.com


Visit the Kairos webiste https://cabinet.kairosplanet.com/register/#111b0e

There Is No Such Thing As Flexible Work

Technology was meant to herald a new way of working anytime, anywhere – but that’s not the case.

Original article by Georgina Kenyon

We didn’t get the flying cars or the self-lacing shoes. But we did get the work world of the future – you know, the one where the internet allows us to work anytime, anywhere, resulting in the death of the 9-to-5 life.

Our ability to trust each other has not advanced in parallel with the technology we have created

Oh, wait. As more and more companies promise flexibility, the reality, it turns out, is pretty far from the culture we dreamed of.

For almost all of us, flexible work really means working a few hours each side of the core workday of 09:00 and 17:00. And, if you think about it, that makes sense, because many businesses still run within those core hours when markets are open, banks process deposits and payments and daylight makes it easier for tradespeople to do their jobs, for example.

 

(Credit: iStock)

Flexible hours have made working from home possible for many – but how many people actually make the most of it? (Credit: iStock)

But while digital technology has enabled a very small degree of flexibility around the regular working day for some, there have been unseen and sometimes unsettling repercussions for employees and employers. For instance, experts say that always emailing your staff and colleagues, even though they sit a metre from you, has had a hidden, but very real impact on morale and trust.

That, in turn, has made truly flexible work nearly impossible for most of us.“There can be a dark side of innovation, and unintended consequences of some organisational innovations,” says Almudena Cañibano, lecturer in human resource management at ESCP Europe, a business school in Madrid, Spain.

No matter how much a work rock star you might be, your manager does not trust you

Our ability to trust each other has not advanced in parallel with the technology we have created. And therein lies one of the real reasons flexible work is little more than a catch phrase. No matter how much a work rock star you might be, your manager does not trust you. Your colleagues do not trust your manager. And, truth be told, you probably don’t trust most of your colleagues or your boss, either.

Trust and the digital age

For Rachel Botsman, a visiting economics lecturer at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, it’s simple: “Institutional trust isn’t designed for the digital age.”

 

(Credit: Alamy)

Technology has let us work anywhere, anytime – but trust issues can get in the way (Credit: Alamy)

 

That’s also the case for the trust people have towards colleagues, within organisations. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, we’re also less able to understand or make room to consider each person as, well, a person.

"The digital age… has resulted in an ‘assault on empathy’, that makes us less able to appreciate the situation of another person,” writes Sherry Turkle, director of the Initiative on Technology and Self at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A lack of trust brings about fear, which goes a long way to explaining why we put in face time, even when we probably don’t need to

In other words, the propensity for email, texting and quick-type apps has led us to forget some of our people skills, including distinguishing the nuances of language and meaning, fostering of a feeling of belonging among groups of people, and knowing our bosses and colleagues well enough to have confidence that others will pull their weight. That, in turn, has diminished implicit and earned trust among the people we work with.

 

(Credit: Alamy)

Technology has disrupted the workplace – and not always for the better (Credit: Alamy)

 

That lack of trust brings about fear, which goes a long way to explaining why we put in face time, even when we probably don’t need to in order to do our work well. It also can explains why we feel we’ve got to have our “butt in the seat” even if our work could truly be done from the corner café or the back garden.

Mother, may I?

Phyllis Moen, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota in the US, calls this the ‘mother, may I’ problem. It’s when we feel fearful of asking our managers if we can work from home or work altered hours if, say, we need to help a relative or attend a series of medical appointments or simply want to work during hours we’re feeling more productive or efficient.

 

(Credit: Alamy)

While it is technically possible for many to work odd hours, the majority of us only need flexibility a couple of hours either side of the typical 9-to-5 day (Credit: Alamy)

 

Some workplace psychologists take it a step further, saying that modern technology is a way for employers to constantly keep surveillance over their staff. In turn, people are increasingly suffering from the impacts of feeling watched, even when they are allowed to work remotely. The Future Work Centre in London released findings earlier this year that showed the emotional reactions we have to constantly being connected to our work causes “a toxic source of stress.”

As a result, we often start thinking up more ‘creative’ ways of excusing ourselves to create flexibility.

What next

There’s also the worry that flexible work options may actually get more limited as automation and advances in information technology now threaten many traditional white-collar jobs, such as accounting and law.  And that’s led to a feeling of insecurity that keeps people in their seats, playing out face time for the boss, and avoiding flexible options when they are available.

As a result of job insecurity, even when flexible work options are offered in a workplace, employees do not always take them up

One report from the World Economic Forum examines how, just as technology made manufacturing largely automated, now white-collar jobs will be automated (for example, when selling a house, the seller will fill in all the required information for an 'online solicitor').

As a result of job insecurity, even when flexible work options are offered in a workplace, employees do not always take them up. Being present it seems in the workplace, seems the most secure option for most.

 

(Credit: Getty Images)

As automation threatens more jobs, it may seem more important to be present in the office (Credit: Getty Images)

 

But, that could be counterproductive for employers. The more control that we have over our time – of when and where we work – the more job satisfaction increases, says Moen. The University of Warwick in the UK found that being happy at work makes people, on average, 12% more productive. In the paper, the researchers found that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which people work without sacrificing quality.

In reality, for some of us, the flexibility of a few hours outside of core hours actually turns out to be enough to improve quality of life. 

In Spain, Iberdrola, one of the country’s largest utilities companies, decided a few years ago to allow its employees to choose working 08:00 to 15:00 with no lunch break – a major change in a country where most people work 09:00 to 19:00 with a two-hour lunch break. The company reported employee satisfaction levels increased as a result and lower turnover (90% of the workforce has been with the company for more than five years).

Changing habits

How do you change a workplace culture? Bring in blanket company rules, say some experts, making benefits universal to all staff if possible. Financial company Moody’s instituted a policy that women returning from maternity leave do not have to fulfil the usual 'billable hours' for several months. “Middle ranking managers can also help introduce flexible and healthy workplaces by getting rid of low value work – like meetings every Monday with no agenda,” says Moen.

“It’s said that to understand something you should try to change it. We are trying to redesign working conditions, giving employees greater flexibility and control over their time with more supportive supervisors,” says Moen.

But, maybe like flying cars in the film Back to the Future, truly flexible work wasn’t ever really going to happen.

If you believe that my message is worth spreading, please use the share buttons if they show on this page.

Stephen Hodgkiss
Chief Engineer at MarketHive

markethive.com


Visit the Kairos webiste https://cabinet.kairosplanet.com/register/#111b0e

Are You An Alpha Entrepreneur?

Most MLMers seem to end up with excess products that they can't sell at a profit because the products are overpriced in the first place. You only have to look on eBay and you will see what I mean. Some companies even ban members from selling except from approved sites online.

Become an Alpha Entrepreneur

We have found a company who is different and not only do they have a good weight-loss product but it sells at a competitive price so that Independent Representatives can still make a profit even when selling at auctions.

Now some people face challenges when it comes to marketing, partly due to the price of the product as mentioned above and sometimes because they do not know where to start. Now I have teamed up with a company called Markethive which is making a special offer to all people who join Valentus at the $499 (Ruby) level. Now $499 is a lot of money, however your order when sold online will recover this cost and put you in profit.

Markethive special incentive is an upgrade to the Alpha Entrepreneur membership level. This is an amazing deal as it normally costs $5000 and includes a one-time deposit of $10,000 in Ad credits and contributes $200 in Ad credits per month so long as the member maintains their Ruby level. If you drop below Ruby level then the monthly credits will be suspended until you re-activate it.

Within Markethive you will find a new type of entrepreneur, groups of people who will go the extra mile to ensure you can build this business, teaching you how to extend your reach in social media. We currently have Valentus groups in the UK, Europe and the USA, so you will not be alone, we all help one another, no matter which group you are part of.

All the tools you will ever need, blogs, auto-responders, rotators, combined with active social media media, messaging and conference rooms. All at NO ADDITIONAL cost.

If you're interested in learning more then visit A New Experience to find out more.

If you believe that my message is worth spreading, please use the share buttons if they show on this page.

Stephen Hodgkiss
Chief Engineer at MarketHive

markethive.com


Visit the Kairos webiste https://cabinet.kairosplanet.com/register/#111b0e