In 1973, Karen Nussbaum worked as a typist and office clerk in Boston, USA.
At 23 years old she was relatively new to the world of work.
Yet already one thing was made pretty clear to her.
Although her working years were just beginning, she’d spent years involved in activism, protesting the Vietnam War and campaigning for civil rights.
Getting together with friends they started a newsletter called 9to5, to fight injustice in workplaces like her own.
Soon the newsletter became a movement, and the movement began to gather momentum.
Before long the story made its way to actress and activist Jane Fonda, inspiring her to write a movie of the same name.
A retribution fantasy of sorts, for working women fed up with being overlooked and underpaid.
The film was a box office hit in 1980, but the real lasting legacy was the original theme song, written and performed by Dolly Parton.
It reached No. 1 on three different Billboard charts and earned an Oscar nomination.
Dolly Parton’s “Working 9 to 5” was about calling out bullshit.
A demand for equality and recognition. For fairer pay and more rights.
Now fast forward 41 years.
Through periods of war, peace, prosperity, recession and currently a global pandemic.
It’s unquestionable that a lot of progress has been made since the hard work and activism of Nussbaum and her peers began campaigning in the early seventies.
Though the gender pay gap is still a large unresolved issue, along with equal representation.
In January 2021 Dolly Parton re-recorded her famous hit as part of a Super bowl advert for Squarespace.
This time with a whole new set of lyrics:
The anthem for workers rights and equality is now about working an extra job on top of your job.
About turning your passion project into a business on the side.
Finding meaning outside of the 9 to 5 grind, or finding a second source of income.
Now you may find it inspiring, a new call to arms - empowering and encouraging the masses to never settle with their status quo.
Or maybe you see it as a cynical capitalist cash grab, going against the very ethos and intention of the original.
For us more than anything it’s illuminating a phenomenon we’ve seen developing for years, brought to the forefront with the chaos and uncertainly caused by the clusterfuck that was 2020.
A steady yet fundamental re-assessment on the way we want to, and need to, earn a living.
In 2018, 40% of the UK national workforce had a secondary source of income, generating £72 billion extra income across the year.
Everything from gig-economy work to selling on Facebook marketplace, delivering for Amazon on an evening and running YouTube channels.
Through choice, aspiration and necessity we’re quietly becoming a nation of side-hustlers.
But what do we gain, and at what cost?
We’re exploring the landscape of work, the implications for health and relationships, how our aspirations are shifting, what work/life balance means now, and crucially what are the commercial implications and opportunities for brands and businesses.
Join us over the next twelve weeks as work from 5 to 9, diving deep into the world of side-hustles.