The discourse on work-life balance has grown louder in the past few years, especially after the pandemic. Diverse work styles are increasingly being articulated through emerging terms like slow productivity, the benefits of doing nothing, quiet quitting, and, most recently, the “lazy girl” job, a term coined by social media influencer Gabrielle Judge that furthers the argument against work consuming our lives.
The concept is not specific to one gender, and it centres around decent pay, work flexibility, and a healthy work-life balance. It does not promote laziness, but rather, a middle path that allows adequate financial earning and the ability to be more than your job. Judge advocates “lazy girl” jobs as a way of setting boundaries and being discerning about how you spend your time. While it is attractive to Generation Z, the concept also has wider appeal.
“The pandemic has impacted employee priorities and how they perceive work and life,” says Upasana Raina, director, HR and marketing communications, GI Group Holding India. “Many people seek a middle ground, aiming for roles that offer a balance between work and personal life with less pressure.”
Surveys reflect these changing priorities. In human capital management solutions provider UKG’s study of global workers, 88% of Indian employees were willing to exchange their high-paying jobs for lower-paying ones to improve their well-being and their personal lives.
But is it easy to make the switch?
For those seeking better work-life balance there are diverse income streams which provide options, whether as consultants, freelancers, or within flexible roles at companies. Mumbai-based Vipasha Rathore’s prior roles in marketing and communications included extensive travel and little time for anything beyond work. When her son was born, she freelanced for two years, which convinced her of the value of a good work-life balance. This influenced her decision to prioritise a job with more autonomy and remote working, when she resumed full-time work. She found this in her current role as assistant general manager, customer experience, at an educational technology company. For Rathore, lazy girl work does not imply less exciting work. “It is no less challenging. Did I compromise on the role? Not at all. Did I compromise on the money? Unfortunately, yes,” she says. “But it allows me to take a pause, breathe, and be around more with my family.”
According to Prasanna Divekar, director and co-founder of Amaresah Business Consulting in Mumbai, lazy girl jobs don’t always have to involve financial compromise. “You can work fewer hours and earn well, even making more money than in a full-time corporate job,” says the 49-year-old. “This concept is more about improving one’s quality of life.”
Divekar spent two decades working with reputed Indian banks, before advice from a senior colleague led him to rethink his path. The colleague, after working for 40 years, regretted his lack of friends beyond work and not developing any non-professional skills, and advised Divekar not to fall into the same rut. This was a wake-up call for Divekar, who left his corporate job in 2013. Working independently has allowed him to explore his interests, including starting a real estate fund and a fashion brand, and learn from diverse contacts—opportunities he feels corporate roles restrict.
Mumbai-based Meghna Datta, 44, also had a prolific banking career. Her last corporate job was a vice-president at a bank in 2013, handling super high net worth individuals’ business. A decade ago, she took a break when her son was born, and could have returned to a corporate role when he started school. “But I felt that I would be able to do a lot more by starting my own thing. Though the money is not as much, I enjoy this as I am learning more things, and being able to do things I enjoy at my own pace,” says Datta. She runs a fintech startup and a boutique consulting firm for BFSI (business, financial services and insurance) clients, and is pursuing a diploma in Bharatnatyam.
Do generational differences in work attitudes motivate certain age groups towards lazy girl jobs? Raina says attributing certain attitudes to any homogeneous group is difficult. “Personal experiences, family situations, career aspirations, health concerns and other individualized factors play a significant role in shaping what employees value in their work arrangements.”
But Divekar highlights generational differences, where those who are now over 40 were instilled with the “work is worship” attitude. “I am 49 now. I am not seeing a lot of corporate folks jumping into this. Only if they are becoming redundant or for health reasons. How many are genuinely waking up? Very few.”
Organizations dismissing these trends that embody changing work priorities risk losing talented professionals. “It’s time to embrace this trend and lead with empathy, flexibility, and a focus on what truly matters,” writes Doug Dennerline, CEO of Betterworks, a California-based HR management software organization, in an article on the lazy girl trend for business media outlet Fast Company. “By doing so, we foster a culture where employees feel cared for, where their lives outside of work are valued, and where they can perform at their best.”
Earlier too, there have been echoes of lazy girl jobs. Delhi-based education consultant Shivani Dayal Kapoor, 51, started her lazy girl journey 20 years ago, when flexible working was unorthodox. She had a fast-paced career in advertising and market research, which she had intended to get back to after having children, but something changed for her. She had family support to help with her children while she worked, but Kapoor wanted to spend time with them and work too. Her boss was understanding, allowing Kapoor to scale down her responsibilities and split her hours between office and home. She changed organizations over the years, but always had supportive managers who let her continue this flexible arrangement. When her children grew older, Kapoor continued working this way to pursue interests in theatre and music. “I may have compromised somewhat on career growth and salary. But this suited me best,” she says.
While Generation Z workers are willing to experiment, Kapoor attributes the wider appeal of lazy girl jobs to people being more confident and secure regarding finances. “We’ve seen a time of plenty after liberalization and I think we are not as scared of losing the plot completely. Growing career options demonstrate different ways to pursue a career and live one’s life.”
This departure from the traditional norm of success captures the essence of a lazy girl job. There is hard work, but being able to structure work around your life, rather than life around work, is appealing. Along with virtual working, Rathore meets clients during her child’s school hours. “Having been with my organization for over half a decade, there is trust and I can define my out-of-home work hours myself.”
Datta enjoys the option of reading a book in the morning if she wants to, and working later. “My bank account is much leaner now, but my quality of life is richer,” she says, suggesting rechristening the term lazy girl jobs to “richer girl/boy jobs” as they provide richness in experiences and learning.
Reem Khokhar is a Delhi-based writer.