Magazine article Management Today

Wanting It All

Magazine article Management Today

Wanting It All

Article excerpt

Following not one but two failures at part-time work, my solution to finding some balance in my life was to throw in my job altogether. Simple and dramatic -- yes. Constructive in terms of keeping the embers of my ruined career alight -- hmm, could do better.

Staying at home has many attractions. But at 36 I still feel a gnawing urge to do something more with my life than attempt to raise well-adjusted children and run a stable, happy household while maintaining some sense of personal space. I would like to play on a bigger stage. The hurdle has been raised; what was sufficient in our mothers' generation just isn't enough any more. And men seem to want something more from life than a comfy office and salary.

The solution is not to stuff people back into their boxes -- women in their homes, men in their nine-to-fives -- but to find new ways to juggle roles so that we can all hope to gain fulfilment at work, make time for our families and still have something left over. Roll up, flexible working, and stand over there, please. Let's have a look at you.

Freelance is the most obvious suspect. It depends on what you do, but many organisations are now run so leanly that there is a definite market for different kinds of freelancers. For example, Megan, who works in the corporate secretariat of a large US investment bank, reports that the person who came to do her holiday cover in the summer was still there in October; although the bank is desperately short-staffed, the hiring freeze means no new permanent people. Thus, counterintuitively, demand for freelancers may well grow during a recession.

The money can be good too; [pounds sterling]l,000-plus a day is not uncommon for consultancy projects. But you don't always get the social stimuli that you find as part of a company; it can be a lonely life.

Freelance means you set your own terms -- how much and when you want to work. So, in theory, does starting your own business. However, my direct observation of people in start-ups is that the business is their baby, or at least -- in the words of one friend -- their bid for immortality. Babies and immortality bids tend to require incredibly long hours.

But not necessarily so. Eden McCallum was started by Liann Eden and Dena McCallum last year to match independent consultants to corporate projects. The business is powering through the downturn and -- guess what? -- Liann and Dena both work four days a week and take time out when they need to. …

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