Before we get into this, let me be honest. I love being a freelancer and, if I were asked, I probably would recommend it as a potential career choice. It gives you a lot of freedom to live your life how you want to. Rather than your life revolving around work, your job simply becomes a side note on the page. It’s still important and explains a lot about who you are. But it doesn’t define who you are. You’ll be able to choose how often you work and to an extent, how much money you make. Still, there are a lot of things that I miss out on being a freelancer. Big and little things that other people have and I…don’t. You might refer to these as the benefits of working for an employer.
I must admit I do miss the equivalent of being wined and dined as an employee. Incentives to make you come into work each day of your life to jobs that are, let’s face it, probably quite boring. If you’ve never been offered employee incentives, I have bad news for you. You’re not seen as a vital hire. The best workers are always offered things to sign up with a company. Usually, that’s because the employer knows that they have other offers. They want to make sure that they win out and get the best of the best. In this situation, an interview isn’t stressful anymore. Instead, it’s quite fun. The roles are reversed, and an employer starts trying to prove why you should work for them.
You just don’t get that as a freelancer. As a freelancer, if I get a new client, I thank my lucky stars. Very rarely do I get a client who offers to wine and dine me to ensure that I take on a contract.
As well as this, when you’re self-employed, you miss out on other incentives as well. Incentives that are part of the job perks, rather than offered exclusively to certain employees. Some of these are pretty incredible. Netflix allows employees to take as many days off as they like while Google has built play areas for their staff. It does make you think twice about being a freelancer; that’s for sure. Until you realise the chances of being hired by these companies is akin to winning the lottery.
I’ll be honest with you; I miss having someone to go to when there’s a problem at work. If there’s a problem in my job, it’s a rather weird conversation that occurs as an inner monologue. In a normal job, you have a full support system. There’s usually an HR team that are there to ensure you’re happy in your position. If you’re not, they’ll work with you to fix the problem. If I get stressed at work, I’ve got to power through because I usually have a deadline. If office workers get stressed, they have someone to talk to. There is Employee assistance programme Services for employers designed for this specific purpose. Stress levels and anxiety issues of employees are checked on a regular basis. There’s nothing like this to stop my hair falling out when I’m struggling to meet a deadline.
I also have no one to depend on. Usually, there is a team structure in an office. As a freelancer, you’re pretty much alone and completely independent. Now, on the one hand, that means you don’t have to worry about anyone else screwing up. On the other, you’re solely responsible for any issues with the work.
There’s the social aspect of support that just doesn’t exist as a freelancer as well. I’m talking about the office parties, the bar crawls, and the Friday nights after work. Does anyone remember Ally McBeal? They worked together and then headed town to the bar after a long day in the office. There’s nothing like this as a freelancer and that’s a shame. Particularly when you will spend over a third of your life working. That’s a lot of time where you’ll have little to no human interaction.
Obviously, being a freelancer doesn’t provide much job security. You’ll be working from contract to contract as you try to build up your number of clients. The only way you can ensure job security is by improving your reputation. Then you can guarantee, there’s always someone requesting your services. That’s understandable, but there are other cases where you work as a freelancer on what is essentially a long contract. You could be hired for over a year on a freelance contract, and the employer can still let you go at any moment. Since you’re a freelancer, they have no legal obligation to give you notice. As well as this, they have no requirement to pay you compensation for loss of work.
That’s quite a frightening scenario, so here’s the good news. These days a permanent contract is harder to come by than most people realise. Most employers are hiring employees on a freelance basis to cut back on costs and responsibilities. That’s why as a freelancer, I don’t miss this benefit all that much. Quite frankly, it’s not even on the table anymore. Particularly in some industries such as, you guessed it, writing.
Aside from my alarm and the wonderful scent of coffee, what ensures I get up tomorrow morning? The answer is nothing. Unlike company office workers, I don’t need to be in the office at nine. I can lie in bed until ten or eleven. I can go out drinking tonight and not get back in until two. I never would of course, but the structure and order aren’t always there as a freelancer. I know what you’re thinking. That sounds like a dream come true! In a way, yes, but it does make time management a tad more difficult. You are working to your deadline, and you’re very much, your boss. In a way, this is both a blessing and a curse. While I love the independence, sometimes it’s good to have a driving force behind you rather than just your perseverance.
All this leaves me to wonder whether I’d prefer to be working full-time for an employer on a contract. The answer is no because, despite all the benefits, I do love the freedom of the freelancer lifestyle.