Many people still think that having a job in an office is the lifelong dream of a freelance worker.
“Oh, if only I could have a cubicle of my very own, and a boss with demands and coworkers with an incessant need to talk to me” said no work at home-r ever.
While the perceived “stability” of a 9-5 is a dream for many, if you really enjoy working for yourself,working for someone else isn’t an option.
When I’m feeling weak, and like I’m failing at life, I remind myself that there’s a reason why I love being a freelancer, and why working in an office might just make me suicidal.
1. Office Politics
There’s a reason why this is number one. In an office there are people everywhere, talking, listening, gossiping. In your business, after your job, after your clients, and so on… At my last office job, most people spent 70% of their time talking to one another on instant chat, or while standing around in the kitchen. They’d talk about other people, the bosses, the girls in sales, the managers. They’d be spreading rumors, asking questions about other people’s questions, and just wasting time. There was no sense of privacy, and it was like high school all over again.
You can say that every office isn’t like that, and that office politics don’t really exist. I’ll tell you right now to just turn around, head back to your sexy corner office, and leave the “little people” in the cubes alone. As long as there are different departments, and different areas in an office, there will always be office politics and nonstop talking.
2. Wasted Time
There are so many opportunities to waste time when you work at home. You could watch TV all day, or catch up on chores and errands, or spend your free time helping out your children or playing with your pets. Those are all things you can be doing, but they generally don’t affect your productivity unless you let them. I know that sounds like nonsense, but stick with me.
When you work in an office you have excuses, becauses. Traffic, donut break, coffee break, lunch break, walk break, stretch break, gossip in the kitchen time, chat online time, time spent looking up productivity tools and reading blogs. There are so many legitimate excuses to do other things because, unless you’re the boss or work on commission, you’ll no doubt have a dedicated number of tasks to work on and plenty of time to get them completed. The last time I worked in an office, I worked quickly because I’m efficient and fast and office life couldn’t keep up with me. I was actually told several times to not work so fast, take more breaks, because 1. I was out-performing everyone else and 2. there wasn’t any more work left to do and our manager himself was running out the clock everyday.
When you work at home, work gets done. Sure there are obstacles and distractions, but none of my freelance writers ever waste time babbling to me on chat. If their work is delayed, it’s because of serious reasons, either technical or personal. No excuses, no “time got away from me.” I haven’t, in my time freelancing, ever given an excuse like that, or let any of my home distractions gotten in the way of the work. I can keep my mind fresh, get outside, spend my time the way I need to while not wasting it between tasks to get through the week. And really, that’s the nature of office work isn’t it? We’d rather waste time under the reign of a boss and call it “work,” than actually be productive and get our work done on our own time.
There is nothing, not even the DEVIL HIMSELF, that I hate more than meetings. They are the ultimate time-wasters, and like 1-2 hour long black holes in everyone’s week. If it can’t be written in an email, does it really exist? Or do you just need another excuse to waste time and not do what’s actually on your task list?
4. Dress Codes
I’m not a nudist, nor am I a gothic punk rocker with hot pink hair and a passion for leather. But I like color, prints, dots, stripes. When I walk into a formal office, all I see is grey, white, and light blue. The office supplies sport more color than the people using them. Why is this? To look professional? To blend in? That’s not me, and this isn’t elementary school.
I find myself ridiculously self-conscious and uncomfortable when I try to blend in, or feel like I’m trying not to be myself. Shouldn’t everyone?
5. Because I Don’t Need to Be There
There are very few jobs left in the world that actually require a human presence. Most things can be done remotely, or by robots. Seriously, think about it.
I get my best ideas while in my home office, at the library, or in the Burien Press cafe. Even Starbucks, in it’s terrible cliche-ness, provides more creative stimulation than the grey box you have for me, in a sea of grey boxes, inside a grey building, in a sea of grey buildings. Grey layers around grey people. And I’m not grey.
Creative workers need comfort, warmth, the things that make them tick. Not the same box that the accountants, sales people, data entry specialists and customer service agents are thrown into. There’s no inspiration there, no motivation. Just a grey damper.
This may be odd-sounding because freelance work is often unpredictable, but there is no stability like the kind you can control yourself. Sure, a 9-5 means that you can possibly have benefits and vacation time, but really, your employment isn’t really based on your performance anymore. It’s based on how the company is doing, how your boss is feeling, and your manager’s opinion of how you do your job. As a freelancer, you and the work you provide keep you in business, not someone else’s bottom line.
When I look back at my career so far, there’s not a single freelance job I’ve taken that I’ve regretted. When I work for myself, I’m improving myself. I’m learning, I’m growing, I’m taking on new clients and exploring new industries. The times that I spent my mornings sitting in traffic, in a rush to get to work, to get talked to constantly, to sit in nonsense meetings, to watch the clock just so that I could go fight traffic to get back home were the most wasted months and years of my life. Just years, gone. And did they make me a better person? No, they made me irate, and made me feel like less of a person because I wasn’t improving myself, I was improving someone else’s self.
I have a freelancer who writes for me who is pretty much living the dream right now, in my opinion. She travels constantly, house sits all over the world, blogs, and makes freelance money on the side for expenses, food, and equipment. At any given time she could be in Turkey, tending a farm while writing a few articles, or in Greece, or in Spain. What does she worry about? Definitely not what Cindy from accounting said about John, who was late for work this morning because of his crazy wife, or whatever else.