As recent figures show, parts of Scotland are some of the worst in the UK when it comes to offering staff different work patterns away from the traditional nine to five route.
Yet soaring numbers are looking for autonomy and the option to achieve a work/life balance which evidence confirms is beneficial for both family life and mental wellness.
Forever Living Products, the aloe vera company has been providing a flexible business opportunity to people for over 40 years, 26 of those in the UK.
Women in particular have recognised the benefits it can offer as an alternative to battling the gender pay gap, glass ceilings on promotion and lack of flexibility around family emergencies such as a sick child.
The sad news is that the higher individuals progress up the career ladder the less flexibility is offered in the traditional workplace.
That’s why today, almost half a million people across the UK are now part of a group of direct sellers which sees 5.9 million transactions made every year.
It’s a sector that is ripe with opportunity as increasing numbers of brands use direct selling as a retail channel. In a new report from Barclays it is suggested that UK manufacturers could gain £13bn over the next five years by shifting their focus from selling to wholesalers and retailers, and going direct to consumers. Nearly three out of four manufacturers now sell direct to consumers – a boost of 55 per cent over the past five years.
Forever Living Products has direct sellers that range from students to retired teachers and even dentists who want to boost their income or explore a future potential business at their own pace.
Yoga teacher Natalie Valenti from Glasgow started her Forever Living business retailing its aloe vera products in 2013 alongside her teaching and family life.
She joined the business as a way of initially earning an additional £200 a month and now has the largest business in Scotland.
She said: “Certainly my experience is that more and more people are looking for a way of working that doesn't compromise other areas of their lives and especially family time. Forever Living provides exactly this."
Studies confirm that being able to work flexibly has a positive impact on mental health and happiness.
In Scotland at least 1 in 6 at work experience common mental health problems usually depression or anxiety.
And research from See Me reveals that 48 per cent of people don’t tell their employers about mental health problems for fear of losing their job.
The positive effects associated with informal flexibility and working at home offer further support to the suggestion that schedule control is highly valued and important to people ‘enjoying’ their work. Figures from a research report from the Direct Selling Association also suggest that 87% of distributors felt that they were well supported, and a huge 94% of people within the industry stated that they were happy at work.
For some it’s a side hustle and a way to earn a couple of hundred pounds a month.
For others, it’s the aspect of being involved in a community and for some it’s about growing a larger business.
Nichola O’Neill from Stirling ran a fashion retail business before moving into a corporate role in HR.
She said: “I have experienced both sides of the fence; being self-employed and being employed; both involved working crazy hours travelling while trying to be a mum to two young children.
“I started my Forever Living business five years ago because I craved flexibility and wanted some kind of balance in my life. Now I have my third child I am able to enjoy all those early stages, it’s been life-changing.”