The Way We Work

oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 7/28/2014:

Fortune | Is There a Legal Case for Work-life Balance?

Pointing to recent gender discrimination lawsuits that have hit almost every major U.S. bank, Caroline Fairchild explores whether there’s a legal foundation for work-life balance.

Fairchild looks specifically at how many women in today’s professional world struggle in an attempt to “have it all.” They fight to strike a balance between running a household and getting ahead at work — whether they’re in high-stress industries or positions where schedules can be wildly unpredictable.

While employers aren’t required to be “family friendly” toward men or women, Fairchild notes that under U.S. employment law, “any workplace rule that isn’t a ‘business necessity’ can’t disproportionately affect one group over another.”

Forbes | Freelancers, Here’s How To Budget Your Money

The most common reasons professionals avoid or delay “going freelance” generally revolve around money: not having a steady income, not having a retirement account set up through your work, not being eligible for group insurance — or, very simply, not making enough money.

To help freelancers get their finances in order, Laura Shin shares her seven tips for creating and sticking to a budget:

  1. Know what you’re spending.
  2. Create a baseline budget using a conservative number.
  3. Come up with your dream budget.
  4. If your dream budget number is vastly higher than your first, cut costs.
  5. Try the 50/20/30 method of budgeting.
  6. Give yourself a weekly allowance.
  7. Give yourself a paycheck.

Entrepreneur | 5 Reasons Why Zero-Hour Contracts Are the Future of Work

During the recent economic downturn, many UK companies introduced zero-hour contracts for their employees, which removed a guaranteed minimum number of work hours per week. This shift inspired many to consider self-employment as a freelancer or independent contractor, where zero-hour contracts are more typical.

Whether zero-hour contracts are a good or bad thing for working professionals remains to be seen, though Maite Baron thinks these “as and when” arrangements are more likely to stay than go.

Citing increased demand for flexibility, more task and project-specific work, falling geographical barriers, increasingly niche skills, and what she called the “self-sufficient” economy, Baron predicts more people will move to an entrepreneurial mindset.

The Guardian | Is Freelancing a Lonely Business?

Though some professionals relish working alone at a quiet desk in their home, others prefer having more human-interactions and liveliness around them.

While advances in technology have enabled millions of people to work from anywhere in the world, many are left feeling lonely or isolated after prolonged periods of working by themselves.

Looking for a way to fix the issue, Liz Parry spoke with Cary Cooper, professor of organizational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School, and Rick Norris, a chartered psychologist.

The good news is that the solution isn’t going back to your 9-to-5 gig; instead, you need to create your own human interactions through Meetup and other networking groups.

Beyond networking, remember that you’re not locked into working from home. You can work from coworking spaces, hang out and work at a coffee shop, or find another spaces here you can connect with like-minded individuals.

What news item caught your attention during the past week? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Amy Partridge

Communications Manager

Amy Partridge is the communications manager at Upwork. In this role, Amy is focused on supporting and accelerating Upwork’s global PR efforts. She brings with her a valuable combination of PR agency and client-side experience. Most recently, Amy was the communications director at tech startup Grubwithus. Amy holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Communications.