Everybody’s hustling – the unstoppable rise of side-working!

When I started Grinning Goblet Wines in 2016, I thought I was in the minority of people who had a ‘secret’ money spinner outside their regular career. But a report by Henley Business School at The University of Reading reveals that more and more employees have a side-hustle and the trend looks set to continue. But what are the pros and cons of being a side-hustler and should businesses be cautious about this phenomenon or should they embrace it?


A ‘side-hustle’, as defined by the Henley report “is a small business or secondary job that someone has in addition to their main career”. Many side hustles are started to indulge a particular passion or interest, whilst also providing an extra source of income. My own passion for fine wine formed the basis for starting a small wine tasting business, Grinning Goblet Wines and having run it for 3 years I can certainly see the advantages.

There is little doubt that a side-hustle nurtures your entrepreneurial spirit. In turn, it also encourages the development of new skills that might even give you a competitive advantage in the job market. Doing the same job, day in day out can lead to stagnation, which may be alleviated by working at something which truly interests and inspires you. My wine tastings have encouraged me to meet all sorts of new people, whilst honing those all-important soft skills. It has also made me confident engaging with large audiences as well as giving me a real creative outlet.

But there is a down-side. A side-hustle can easily give one little time to truly unwind. They demand self-discipline and good time management or else they can take over, to the extent that they may even encroach harmfully into your main career. There is little point investing energy in a side hustle if only to increase your stress levels and starve your body of important down-time.

That said, with a bit of organisation a side hustle can have real benefits, not least the financial reward. The Henley report observes that collectively side-hustles now generate income worth £72 billion for the UK, which constitutes 3.6% of UK GDP. There is also evidence that employees who are engaged in such activity are happier and more productive at work, which can only be good for business on the whole.

With that in mind, it is perhaps surprising that only 38% of businesses appear in favour of this phenomenon, whilst 67% believe the trend is not set to increase. Nevertheless, these days, people are more interested in following their passions and making a difference rather than devoting every ounce of energy to a regular day job. Technology and the rise of the gig economy have also helped to make the prospect of rewarding side-working a real possibility so perhaps corporations need to accept that side-hustles are here to stay. Indeed, having seen the upside to side-hustling first hand, I would go further and say that they should be encouraged.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with the head of recruitment of a major financial services institution not too long ago. The company was keen to recruit a new IT team and the usual internal email was circulated to employees to ask whether anyone was aware of a friend or associate who may possess the requisite skill set. How surprised was she to then receive interest from three existing employees who all had their own small IT businesses running alongside their regular career. It was a talent pool of which the firm had previously been completely unaware. It seems that businesses have yet to realise the very real advantages of a side-hustling work force!