Relationships in the On Demand Economy

The next wave is already here, and it is not just technology. Its what technology is bringing. The On Demand Economy.

If you are wondering what the On Demand Economy has got to do with your relationship then either you are not a millennial, or else you are still working in the traditional economy. The odds are that even if you are not actively employed in the on demand economy, you are using it every day in a number of ways. The best way to describe the  “On Demand Economy” is any product or service that you can get or need as soon as you think about it. Some of the most visible examples of on demand business are Netflix, Uber, Amazon, Deliveroo, companies that deliver NOW. These business models are growing at a staggering rate  and recruiting millions more employees, just like you. On Demand businesses are beginning to impact not only the traditional way of doing business, but also how we as individuals are thinking about products and services today. I want it and I want it now, is where society is at today. Have you thought about how this social development, and the On Demand Economy is impacting your relationship with your significant other and also the relationship  with yourself.


The On Demand Economy and Me

Are you wondering what the on demand economy means for your relationship with yourself. While you might be more likely to be working in the on demand economy if you were born between the years 1980 and 1994, you could just as likely to be part of it if you work for yourself or if you are a “contractor”. If this is you, then you will know that characteristics like confidence, high self esteem, being tech savvy, and being being socially connected are important qualities. Equally important is knowing that you are good at what you do. As time goes by maybe it won’t be just important to know what you are good at, maybe it will become essential to be being successful in the “Gig Economy”. You will need to know your strengths, how to network and spot opportunities before they arise. If this sounds like a lot, you are right. It takes  a lot of ability to be successful at any level in the “Gig Economy”. This is by no means a bad thing. However, when you see how this is going to be a large part of the future of work, then knowing yourself, being passionate about what you do, and wanting to continue to learn are essential to staying gainfully employed. This is a very different world to the steady pace of  a “9 to 5”  job in a traditional business operation. Knowing yourself and knowing what you want are key to maintaining  a professional profile and a healthy bank account, even if that is just keeping your account out of the red. Sooner rather than later most if not all companies and industries will be influenced and disrupted by the on demand economy. If you can’t hear or see this happening around you then it might be that you don’t want to. Knowing what you want and making the time to create that life will focus your energy, your time, and your priorities. Inevitably, this will require an ability to assert yourself in a rapidly changing world. Avoiding these two issues, (knowing what you want and then focusing on it), will ultimately lead you to a less satisfying life and less satisfying relationships.


The On Demand Economy and Couples

How do you manage your relationship when you work directly in the on demand economy. What happens if both you and your partner work in the on demand economy. The first thing most couples will say is that they never have enough time, or they will feel like they never have enough time to fit everything in. If you have children, then you probably feel that the days, weeks, and months just roll into one. You spend a lot of time fantasying about or waiting for the annual vacation to come around. Managing time in these situations will likely mean that the lowest priority is your own relationship. It probably gets squeezed in between, the shopping, work, the school run, cleaning the house, dropping the kids off to their various activities and if you are lucky catching up with friends. As a result they is very little time allocated to communication or making plans. Just staying ahead of the game or keeping the show on the road will make you feel that there isn’t any personal time for you.

There will be times when you may end up feeling disconnected, overwhelmed, and on your own. In these situations it is possible to experience an impulsive need to get some time on your own, just to switch off. It can lead to intermittent or  temporary reliance on unhealthy eating, or alcohol consumption to alleviate the intensity of the stress. This in turn can lead to increased conflict and greater anxiety within your relationship. In the On Demand Economy employees are likely to have zero hours contracts and no safety nets in the event of sickness of any loss of earnings. These factors also contribute to their sense of insecurity, and anxiety about the future.

What is now becoming apparent to many people in the On Demand Economy is the issue of emotional labour. If you are part of a service operation, in a customer facing role, or in the health care industry then you will likely understand the term emotional labour. However what you may not have considered is the impact that providing emotional labour has on your personal relationship. If you are having to give emotionally every day at the office, is it ideal or even possible that you can be expected to give emotionally at home. Maybe home is the one place you have to switch off emotionally, or on the other hand it may mean that its the one place where its safe to unload emotionally. In todays world most couples have never consider the emotional drain the work place has on their relationship. Neither have they considered that they may have been competing with each other, or that they have very different ways of coping with the emotional impact of working in an On Demand Business.


Whats the solution ?

It may seem like there is no solution, that in some way you are trapped. Like any dilemma it is often a good idea to take a step back and survey the scene from a distance. I know thats easier said than done, but stepping back to take an objective view of what is happening in your life and relationship is the quickest way forward. You might want to do this on your own first, as discussing whats happening without some level of objectivity can often to lead to frustration, resentment, sometimes open conflict, and rejection. These are not the emotions you want to engage in as a couple when trying to find a way forward. Once you have had some time to reflect on how your job and company is impacting on your personal life you can then choose what it is you want to change in your life. Maybe you don’t want to change anything, but you will be in a position to discuss your relationship in a less emotional and detached frame of mind. Having an open discussion without an agenda or without the need to assign blame can lead to a more balanced conversation  about where you would like your relationship to go. You may even hear similar concerns being voiced about your current lifestyle being shared by your partner. Sometimes a problem shared is a problem halved. Being vulnerable enough to open up about your concerns or fears can bring a relationship to a new level.


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