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More work makes freelancers happy

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London: As the working hours of freelance workers fluctuate, so does their well-being, finds a study, adding that freelance workers are calmer and more enthusiastic when their hours are higher than their normal pattern of working.

Researchers Stephen Wood from the University of Leicester and George Michaelides from the University of London surveyed 45 freelance workers over a period of six months.

With each participant completing an identical survey each week for six months, the researchers found that freelance workers were at peace when workload increased.

However, when the demands they face become increasingly difficult, their anxiety levels increase and they may even become depressed.

“Increased demands adversely affect people’s work-life balance; in particular work interferes with fulfilling family and other non-work commitments or pursuits,” Wood said.

This is so even when workers’ increased workload generates enthusiasm as this is at the expense of their lives outside of work.

The research shows that, regardless of whether well-being improves or diminishes as workload increases in either size or complexity, work-life balance suffers the same — it is the worker’s wellbeing that is affected differently.

“Demands generate what has long been called stress-based work-family/non-work interference but hours generate a largely unrecognised phenomenon, enthusiasm-based work-family/non-work interference,” the authors noted.

However, there are also some countervailing force as long hours can make freelance workers calmer which has the opposite effect — it decreases work-family/non-work interference.

The enthusiasm-based theory may be limited to people whose opportunities for work and income fluctuate and zero-hour workers might be the extreme of this.

The long hours needed to fulfil tasks may be seen as a challenge and not a hindrance as conflicting demands may be.

Yet the study shows that freelance workers are in other respects subject to the same pressures as other workers.

Conflicting demands, which constrain and hinder people fulfilling their potential and smoothly completing tasks, adversely affect their work-life balance and well-being.

In addition, when they have control over, and variety in their work they are happier, which is also true for most workers.

The article was published in the SAGE journal Human Relations.

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