There are a record 51.1 million independent workers in 2021. As reported by MBO Partners in a preview of their annual State of Independence report, this is a massive growth from 38.2 million in 2020. Multiple factors have likely influenced this surge, including COVID-19 and the shifting landscape of the workforce amidst the “Great Resignation”.
Independent workers may work full- or part-time, or even only occasionally, and can include freelance or contract workers and self-employed entrepreneurs.
But what are the pros and cons of independent work for cancer patients and survivors? And how do they relate to our current economy?
Working for yourself can provide a more flexible schedule to accommodate doctor appointments, treatment schedules and the space to navigate side effects on your own terms. It may also be an opportunity to engage in more meaningful work. If you are currently employed but also working independently as a side-hustle, it could bolster your skills towards a career change, or provide extra income to offset the costs of treatment. It could be used as a way to stay active on your own terms while taking time off for treatment, or to prevent a resume gap (even though perspectives continue to evolve around resume gaps, first with the 2008 economic downturn and now due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic). Independent workers also have more access to growth than ever before thanks to the ongoing development of online platforms and marketplaces providing ways to display a portfolio, pitch for projects, and connect with new clients. It can also be a great way to pickup work during times of major upheaval like COVID-19, where so many people have been furloughed, lost their jobs, or may no longer feel safe going to a physical workplace and don’t have the option of working remote.
But independent work also comes with unique challenges to be mindful of. The most affordable healthcare in our country is often tied to accessing it through an employer who can offset some of the costs. The cost of treatment can be burdensome enough, without also paying high insurance costs all on your own. Independent work, while offering flexibility, can also be a highly unpredictable form of income, subject to the ebb and flow of acquiring clients or shifts in the economy. And you may not have access to some of the perks of full-time employment such as paid vacation or sick days.
We hope being mindful of these pros and cons of independent work can help you use it to your best advantage. And for more support navigating the complexities of independent work, as well as acquiring health insurance, see:
- Self Employed, With Cancer
- Flexible Work
- Balancing Work & Cancer (webinar – recording coming soon!)
- Health Insurance Options (webinar) on Wed Oct 13th
- Conquering Insurance Issues and Problems
Cancer and Careers also offers a 50% discount to membership fees for FlexJobs.com if you enter the promo code “CANCER” on the billing page.
Applications are still live for our Financial Assistance Grants program, offering $500 for cancer patients and survivors experiencing financial challenges to use towards bills, technology, skill development or training. We also host a list of other organizations offering financial assistance.