Portfolio pros and cons

Portfolio working is expected to increase after Covid and organisations are springing up to support alternative ways of working.

Freelancer with flexible working


While self employed people have been badly affected by Covid and the number of people doing self employed work is going down in the official statistics, it is likely that increases in unemployment will see it rise again as it did after the last recession. This week on workingmums.co.uk we featured Julia Kermode’s new organisation IWORK which aims to help those working independently – from gig workers to contractors and freelancers – to get the support they need and to lobby on their behalf. Meanwhile workingdads.co.uk interviewed Ben Legg who has set up The Portfolio Collective to help those who are knitting together an array of jobs – whether part-time, gig economy or freelance – to give them extra flexibility.

The Portfolio Collective was a product of lockdown with Ben finding himself giving online career advice session on a weekly basis. The collective offers platform-based content, forums, networking and training including a four week ‘Catapult Course’ that aims to focus the mind and get a portfolio career off the ground quickly.

It’s a subject close to my heart as I too am a portfolio worker. There are great benefits to a portfolio life – you don’t get bored in any one job and can try out new things, ideas from one job can stimulate ideas for another – even if it is in a completely different field, you have greater security in an uncertain world in that all your eggs are not in one basket and, in my case, you can avoid having to put children into expensive after school or holiday clubs.

The downside is, as with freelancing, if all your jobs are busy at the same time it can be fairly stressful. However, unlike freelancing, if at least one of the jobs is a part-time employed role, you can afford to take time off for holidays. When it comes to pay, it depends how easy it is to find a part-time job in your field that pays in line with your experience.

On the whole, I think it has been positive for me. It has meant I have been around for my kids and I have been able to do interesting work. I’m not a CEO, of course, but I think I was never cut out to be one. It’s definitely good to see more support springing up for alternative ways of working because they will require rethinking of all sorts of things, from parental leave to pensions. It seems to take a while before policy catches up with what is happening in the world of work and there is a lot that needs to change.

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