More young workers are monetising their hobbies and supplementing their salaries through a second job. But are we working ourselves too hard? Alice Peacock reports.
When Charlotte Fleetwood-Smith's alarm rings, just after 5am, she pulls on her gym gear and is in her car within half an hour.
By 6am, she's made the 15km drive from her home in Hobsonville to Takapuna and is on stage at Les Mills' North Shore club to teach a half-hour Bodystep class. By 8am she's at the AJ Park offices in downtown Auckland, where she works full-time as a solicitor specialising in intellectual property law.
Fleetwood-Smith is one of a growing number of young professionals working two jobs - a primary job as well as a side gig or side hustle.
Nearly half of American workers have side hustles, according to a Bankrate.com survey released last week. It covered things like working as Uber drivers, freelance work or picking up off jobs on apps. And with the rise of influencers, many millenials or the younger Generation Z are paid for their side work on Instagram or similar platforms.
In the world of celebrity, makeup, clothing and other side projects have moved from a side project to a multibillion-dollar industry that can generate more for the star than their day job.
Rapper Jay Z is known for hip-hop but his streaming service Tidal and cognac brand D'Usse are reportedly worth US$700m alone. In comparison, his No.1 album made only US$500m.
Popstar Rihanna made US$22m from her music in 2016, according to Billboard. But businessinsider.com.au reports that the number is dwarfed by her earnings from her fashion and beauty ventures. She is the creative director of Puma, and partnered with French luxury-goods maker LVMH to launch Fenty Beauty in 2017 and a fashion house of the same name in 2019. She has a net worth of US$600m, according to Forbes.
And as the Herald on Sunday reported last week , Kiwi sports stars, including Ardie Savea and Joseph Parker, and actors are charging up to $150 to record personalised video messages for fans, while still collecting income from their main jobs.
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Auckland-based therapist Anna Keyter says millennials have higher pay expectations.
"It makes sense, in New Zealand, that millennials would take on this second job - to supplement income and really to pay the rent. It's so expensive to live here."
The word purpose crops up once again - many young professionals expect their work to be fulfilling, as well as flexible, she says.
"It's quite interesting the change in focus - we have seen a shift in terms of what we deem important."
But with more work comes health warnings. A survey, commissioned by Britain's Mental Health Foundation thinktank last year, found young adults are the age group most vulnerable to stress.
Eighty-three per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds reported feeling overwhelmed or "unable to cope" over the past year. Issues like a poor work-life balance or working outside normal hours, were the second most common factor respondents said were making them stressed.
Last month burnout became an official disease after it was added to the World Health Organisation's catalogue ; the International Classification of Diseases.
It will become globally recognised in 2022, giving healthcare providers and insurers precedent to acknowledge, treat and cover symptoms of burnout.
The WHO describes burnout as "chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed".
Keyter says she sees these high levels of stress and anxiety reflected in her clients - many of whom are young adults starting off in the workplace.
"When any professional consistently works extended hours to supplement income, that can cause them to become overwhelmed and stressed out, simply because they're not taking enough time for themselves."
"It's also important for them to get sufficient rest and real social support. I think millennials tend to draw a lot on electronic social interaction."
Keyter acknowledges the younger generations cop a lot of flak from some of their older counterparts, and are frequently typecast as "entitled" or "snowflakes".
"They get these negative messages on the internet, on blogs, it's being shoved down their throat a little bit."
For Fleetwood-Smith, the early morning instructing gig "ticks a box".
"It's quite hard to describe... But it satisfies different areas of my personality, and I'd probably say more of my soul and emotion," she says.
"I guess my purpose in teaching these classes is to make everyone else aware of what they can do, how much better they can make you feel and how that can translate into other benefits in your life."
The Aucklander started teaching classes at Les Mills late in her teenage years - around the same time she launched into a conjoint degree studying law and arts at the University of Auckland.
At this point Fleetwood-Smith says instructing was a "passion project" - though she did consider whether it could be more than that.
"There was kind of a hovering moment, I guess, at the early stages of my legal career, going back three or four years, when I thought maybe I would prefer to pursue fitness," she says.
She's glad she carried on down the legal path. While fitness requires its own type of focus, her day-to-day work is "intellectually stimulating".
Fleetwood-Smith is still enjoying juggling both, but admits she worries about burnout.
Recently she had a six-month break from the gym, due to an injury. Though she missed breaking a sweat, Fleetwood-Smith says she also realised how much socialising time she'd been opting out of, in favour of classes or workshops.
It's prompted her to look at how she prioritises her time, and redefine her reason for squeezing both jobs in. Today, she's happy with a "healthier" balance of work and time for herself.
Felicity Brown, head of employee services at Mind Your Own Business, says she's aware of an increasing number of developers within the company with a project on the side.
She believes the key drivers for taking on a side hustle are passion, and the quest for purpose.
"I think this ties into just how important purpose is for younger generations, more so, perhaps, than the older generations.
"We find it is important for those younger generations coming through, that they really need to feel like they are doing something meaningful and that there is real purpose to their work that gets them out of bed and to work for the day."
Though some young workers achieve this through their 9-5, others will seek it outside their main job. They either start up their own business on the side or take on a second job - often in a completely different industry.
MYOB recently introduced an initiative called flex-leave. This created an additional five days of leave on top of an employee's leave entitlement, which Brown says can be used for any reason.
"I could see that there may be people who, if they were wanting to invest a bit of time in something they had on the side, they may choose to use some of that leave in that way."
For those starting something from scratch, Brown says this could come with a financial gain - they create a marketable product or service to run on the side.
With this comes an increased sense of ownership, she says.
"Where you work and what you're working on dictates just how creative you can be. Are you working on making improvements to something that exists, or have you been given free rein to develop something completely from scratch?
"When you love your craft that much, you do want that creativity I think - you want free rein and to be able to create something from scratch."
Some of these cases can be a "grey area" in terms of intellectual property, Brown says.
"If you were developing something arguably is in competition to your employer, then there would be concerns there, of course."
But assuming there's no conflict of interest, Brown says there's no reason employers shouldn't be supportive of a hustle their employees run outside work hours.
"If we've got people who are that motivated, and that driven, and they're creating more, new and different things... surely that's a good outcome, long term for lots of people."
Kickstarting a business on the side of a stable job also entails less risk than taking the leap into sole self-employment.
"So many of the protections that we have under labour laws are based on permanent employees.
"From a regulation perspective, and in terms of our labour laws, we're perhaps not well set up to support that widespread independent contractor working."
"Given there is not an employment relationship between an independent contractor and the business, the legal protections and entitlements that exist for permanent employees don't exist for a contractor," Brown says.
Though some take on a side hustle as a labour of love, Brown acknowledges others are working overtime simply to make ends meet.
"I do suspect that in certain roles, it may be that you're looking at getting a side job to help, because of the rising cost of living."
This rings true with Mark Pearl, MYOB employee and founder of Maxcut software.
The North Shore father-of-three invests several hours of work into Maxcut from his home office each week, spreading the time between Saturday and in the evenings, after work.
Pearl, 39, caters to people making things out of wood or plastic - Maxcut scopes out the easiest way to cut the sheets of material to create the least wastage.
Without the profits from Maxcut, Pearl says money would be tight. The company brings in about an extra $1000 a month, which moves his family from being "very tight" to having money to spend on the kids, and family activities.
Pearl's wife doesn't work - the couple decided she would stay home with their kids while they were young - so they're a single income family.
"Living on the North Shore isn't cheap," Pearl says.
Though money is one of the key motivators, he also enjoys the work.
"It's really nice seeing people using your stuff, and telling you what a difference it makes for them. It is quite different."
Making time to keep the company ticking along is sometimes difficult, and Pearl is conscious of setting boundaries and creating balance to make sure he's not working himself into the ground.
"It's hard to have too many things on the go at the same time," he says.
"Burnout is a big thing. I've been really careful around having a routine that keeps me healthy - I'm very conscious around exercise, eating, around meditation and relaxing."
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Aly Dickey, a sales consultant at a real estate company, started her dress rental business, Aly's Wardrobe Rentals, at the beginning of this year.
The 24-year-old runs the business on a dedicated Instagram account and through Facebook.
She says the effort to keep it running is minimal and the only associated costs are shipping and dry cleaning.
"It wasn't to support me or anything, but I had lots of dresses that were just sitting there, and a few of my friends were like, 'why don't you rent them out and make something from this?'," she says.
She has around 40 dresses on offer, which she's bought over the years for events and parties.
In a good week, Dickey says she'll rent two dresses out, which will bring in around $150.
"It's just really to have some income on the side," she says.
"I wouldn't have gone out of my way to do it, if it wasn't for social media."
Whether or not it's what's helping you earn an extra buck, Keyter says disconnecting from social media, emails and more broadly, the internet, is key to a balanced life.
Her tips to avoiding burnout? Take time out from emails during the day, and make the effort to unwind and disconnect from work communication when you get home.
Building relationships with family and friends - offline - is another key factor.
"It's all about balance."