If you were born between 1980 and 1995 and freelance in media in Toronto, you’re invited to share your experiences with a researcher at the University of Waterloo.

Dr. Nancy Worth is in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management. She’s conducting a SSHRC-funded project called Home/work looking at the experiences of millennial freelancers.

“Millennials are the largest generation of workers in Canada right now and they’re the generation most likely to be freelancers,” she says. “It’s become sort of a new norm. But if we look at how we measure work and think about work, we still have a social expectation of a regular 9 to 5.”

The study will look at how freelancers organize their time.

“Finding those work boundaries when you have the rest of your life to lead can sometimes be quite difficult,” says Worth. “I’m interested in learning more about the boundary between the paid and unpaid work people are doing at home. And also just how you manage when you have time off, because that can be really challenging as a freelancer to carve out that time — when working more means more money, more contacts, more business.”

Worth is also looking at the unpaid work freelancers do — from looking for assignments, to chasing down invoices, to building a network.

The aim of the study is to understand how policy can better support freelance workers.

“If you look at how work is conceptualized in the Employment Standards Act, it assumes an employer for a lot of it,”
says Worth. “Employment insurance, medical benefits, pensions, all of these sort of wider protections assume a relationship with an employer. So what does it mean if you’re self-employed and covering that yourself?”

Freelancers lack other protections in our current system, too, she says.

“If work is unsafe or problematic, how do you report that if it’s in a contracted relationship? Understanding the ins and outs of freelancing is a way of improving working conditions for everybody.”

Dr. Worth will be conducting interviews until at least the end of March. If you participate, you’ll be asked to give a one-on-one interview in a location convenient to you. It will take about an hour and you’ll receive $20 as a thank you for your time. If you’re interested in reading the results of the study, they’ll likely be available by the end of summer.

You can find out more about the research project on this website. For more information or to participate in the study, email homework@uwaterloo.ca.

POSTED IN: News