As I’m busy agonising over the organisational details of an “intimate” staff Christmas party – Where to eat? What to eat? Are bad-taste Christmas jumpers still socially acceptable? Do they make crackers in single packs? Who will I end up getting in the Secret Santa?
It becomes apparent to me that it’s coming up to a full year as a fully fledged freelance 3D developer, and its nigh on time that I update my blog with some of the pro’s and con’s of taking the plunge and working for myself.
One of the huge plus points of being a freelancer is that you don’t tend to work a standard 8-5. I have personally revelled in the ability to be able to put off work til the evening in order to have lunch out with friends or enjoy an afternoon game of squash. I concede that this has required a rather substantial change in attitude. In the past, productivity came only with a great deal of pressure & tight deadlines. Now I am a better judge of knowing how long a project ought to take and simply end up doing it when I’ve allotted myself the time to do it. The hour or two I’d spend procrastinating in the past, is now devoted to more meaningful pursuits – things that are healthy and that I actually enjoy, which in turn makes me more efficient when I work. A virtuous (rather than vicious) circle.
I firmly believe that if you know when and how you work best, then having the flexibility to dictate the hours in your working day can actually boost your productivity and improve health and well-being; something that has definitely been an unexpected highlight of the past year.
This is not the literal freedom of being able to work in your pyjamas (although this has and is technically possible). But the professional freedom of being able to say yes or no to jobs. As a freelancer “being your own boss” is as refreshing a phrase as is is daunting. I have found that, ultimately, everyone is a slave to something, and for a freelancer, that tends to be the bank account.
That being said, it is a nourishing thought that a job can be turned down simply because you don’t want to do it… something you don’t have the privilege of doing in full-time employment. (Although in reality this never happens unless you are too busy to eat or sleep).
If you are lucky enough to find the work then this is definitely a huge plus too. The financial incentives for the young and un-attached are simply to enticing to resist. I personally have been fortunate to have had a near constant stream of work, but even if it had been half as much – I would still have been better off financially than in full-time work (coupled with the added benefit of being able to devote half a year to personal projects.)
It’s probably quite sad to say, but I actually enjoy my own company; and the independence that comes with being self-employed is definitely something that aligns well with my personality. I have enjoyed being able to make decisions on the fly, without waiting on the chain of command, and building relationships with clients myself rather than through an intermediary.
In truth, I have missed some of the comradery full-time employment brings; but office politics, disputes and petty fallings out are now a thing of the past; and I’m all the more happy for it.
This is one that gets banded round a lot on contracting forums. Yes, there is less job security in the traditional sense as you can theoretically spend one week to one month looking for work. But in truth, how safe is a full-time job anyway? A company effectively acts in the same way as a contractor, so if there isn’t enough work to go around – then your jobs not safe either.
It’s very difficult to say no to a job – even taking what I’ve said above into account. When you are overstretched with too much work, it is very very difficult to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Especially when working from home. That said, every hour you work is an hour you are getting paid, so it’s still marginally better than having no work at all and being stressed with your finances.
3. Predictable Christmas Parties
But at least I know and like who is going to be there…