Living the gig life
Apart from freedom and flexibility, people want more control over how they integrate their work with other things that drive them. Three professionals share their motivation for choosing this new-age working style:
Nandita Warrier (46): Corporate trainer and organizational development consultant, and director, Growth Spurt
While still part of the human resource department of a large company, Nandita Warrier got a chance to lead a branch office, in essence be the boss. The assignment exposed her to various aspects of managing a business unit independently. Years later, when she faced the choice to go back to full-time work, this experience stood out in her mind. “My no.1 ‘aha’ of working was when I was my own boss. All decisions, choices, my approach to an assignment, were mine,” says Warrier. So, after a few freelance assignments with a consultant, she set up her own outfit, Growth Spurt.
Warrier enjoys taking up jobs, finishing them and taking out personal time whenever she needs to. “I can enjoy the best of both worlds and prioritize based on what needs my attention at any given time. I love that I can also give time to the gifts of life—people, hobbies and health—without compromising on my work.”
For Warrier, the decision to be part of the gig economy wasn’t just about freedom, it also helped her turn a dream of 15 years into a reality—she has finally started work on a book because she has the time and mind space to do it. Warrier says working different gigs has given her the opportunity to work in different industries, and exposed her to different cultures, which has led to personal growth.
However, she points out, the gig life comes with its own set of challenges: sometimes, when there isn’t any work, you’re completely on your own. At such times, she advises a positive dialogue with oneself to ward off a crisis of confidence. Logistics, she adds, are also a challenge—one ends up doing a lot of backend work, which can get annoying. “The toughest part is managing a consistent flow of work, largely because of the extraneous factors affecting clients. Plans keep changing and often one is left high and dry. Being snubbed can be emotionally draining and confidence crushing.” At such times, Warrier says reaching out to existing clients to help with references is a good option.
Vinod Batus (33): UI/UX designer, art director, Vinod Batus Consultancy
Vinod Batus felt like a misfit in the traditional corporate set-up. “I was unhappy with several things, such as the corporate culture, late nights and arbitrary salary structure. And I wasn’t creatively satisfied,” he says. As a gig worker, he has the freedom to select the kind of projects he wants to work on, and has flexible working hours.
The crossover was not sudden. Batus freelanced while he was still working full-time, which made the transition to the gig economy smoother. “I have also built strong relationships within the industry, which is critical for gig work,” he adds.
Batus cautions that slow months can be scary, but planning ahead helps. “A solopreneur needs to maintain a pool of funds for the times that clients default on payments. Besides these setbacks, with a strong portfolio and word-of-mouth for assignments done well and on time, there is no limit to the amount of money that can be made,” he says.
Rakesh Ramchandani (46): Business and marketing consultant, chief ideator, Orange Polka
Rakesh Ramchandani felt he was stagnating in his corporate job in 2011 because getting slotted in a 9-5 cycle meant inefficient use of time owing to “face time” in office and travelling to and from work. The metrics of archaic formats (the redundant appraisal system, for example) also did not appeal to him.
“Being on my own has allowed me to spread my wings and push the envelope professionally. I have become more organized, more adventurous,” he says.
As a gig worker, he says, “you choose the people you work with. Your projects challenge and motivate you. But for me the most important value is the fact that I can say ‘no’ whenever I want. However, the flip side is that on my lazy days there is no one pushing me to get the job done. The biggest challenge is self-motivation and setting deadlines.” Working on your own has its own set of distractions, and being the only one responsible for everything means working on things that are not your core expertise. Ramchandani rues not having someone for the administrative tasks, because it takes time away from the core work—time that could be spent in getting more projects. “Having vintage or global credentials or a big name on your visiting card eases open the doors faster. But when you do get inside a tough-to-open door without these, the thrill is much bigger.”
Ramchandani admits that while it’s not always smooth sailing, one does have the luxury of spending time on self-growth, family, and bucket-list items. A passionate chef, he works on improving his culinary skills whenever he gets a chance. He also believes in keeping abreast of new market trends and technology through short-term professional courses online.
But the gig life is not for everyone. “You need to have an entrepreneurial mindset. If you are used to receiving your salary at the end of every month, then this won’t work for you. However, if you have a nest egg and don’t mind a bit of uncertainty, it’s worth a shot.”