With self-employment in the UK at the highest levels since records began, an exodus is taking place in offices across the land. But while there are undisputed benefits to the freelance lifestyle, there are many things we take for granted about office life that are sorely missed when we clear our desk for good. Having endlessly mentally wrestled with both scenarios, here are my top five reasons why I believe the grass remains greener on the office side of the fence.
1) Our colleagues: while there’s no denying that office politics can be a nightmare, the other side of the coin is the camraderie we experience with our colleagues. Spending more time with our work family than we do with our own families creates a strong bond that comes with sharing both the minutiae and major milestones of life. From work crises through to dating disasters, marriage proposals and the sleep-deprived suffering of first-time parents, there’s an endless supply of support, sympathy and experience on tap from those we share a daily desk space with.
2)Structure: while we often moan about the rigid routine of the 9 to 5, office life not only provides us with a place to go every day but also gives us a structure in which to work. With many employers now starting to grasp the popularity of flexible working, the trend in working from home is now becoming more commonplace. Being fortunate enough to work from home one day a week, I relish the contrast between the buzz of office life and the peace of working from home to complete more detailed pieces of work without distraction.
3) Personal development: as the economy picks up and employers are increasingly forced to compete for new recruits, investment in staff development is becoming more important. From flexible working through to lunch break meditation sessions and paid volunteering, office workers now have the chance to develop themselves in ways that have never existed before. My own experiences have ranged from volunteer mentoring through to participating in radio interview training with a leading PR agency. Both experiences have opened doors and taken me in new directions I never would have considered before.
4) Work-life balance: While we all dream of having the freedom to make up our own hours, few realise just how big a commitment this will initially be. The reality of “living the dream” in the early stages involves waving goodbye to evenings and weekends while spontaneous after work dinners and weekends away become a thing of the past. Taking on the role of Finance, Sales, Marketing and Administration Manager is a heavy burden on top of your day job and can consume every waking minute if organisation’s not your strong point.
5) Paid holidays: While paid holidays are something that we all take for granted, few of us realise how precious our time off really is. When you’re going it alone, time is money and every hour counts. The trend of FOMO (fear of missing out) is a particularly real concern when faced with the sudden appearance of a last-minute lucrative contract which appears the day after you’ve departed on a two-week trip. Being able to plan annual leave months or just a few weeks in advance provides a sense of freedom that puts us firmly in control of our lives. Jetting off safe in the knowledge that our bills are taken care of while we’re away allows for a relaxing break where you can truly switch off. Just as long as the boss doesn’t ring.
Do you work in an office or are you freelance? Which do you prefer?
Share your experiences below.