In my editing career, I’ve been fortunate to have worked as an in-house editor (in an office, working 9 to 5) and as a freelancer who sets my own schedule and has the freedom to do my own thing. But now that I’ve been freelancing for a while, I’ve realized that there are certain things I actually do miss about office life. I don’t think I’ll ever go back (the pros far outweigh the cons), but I have given up a few perks.
3 Things I Miss about Working in an Office . . .
Being 5 feet away from your coworkers can have its advantages. It’s so easy to just shout a quick question over the cubicle wall or ask someone to quickly review an email you just wrote. Sure, it’s nice to enjoy the comfort and quiet of your home office when you’re a freelancer, but you’re all on your own! Unless you frequently use instant messaging or log onto a social media site, you’re unable to benefit from real-time collaboration and training with your colleagues.
Routines and rituals
The drive to work, the morning coffee, booting up my computer as I greet my coworkers—I don’t have that anymore. (Well, I still do enjoy my coffee.) But it’s so easy when you work from home to sleep in later than you mean to and shuffle from the bedroom to the office, still in your PJs, to start working. There’s no decompression time during an evening commute, and it can be difficult to define work time and personal time when you’re not physically traveling between the office and home. I miss the mental shift I used to experience preparing for work in the mornings and then winding down coming home at night. Or maybe I just need a better routine.
Regular pay and benefits
This one is pretty obvious. Freelance work can be feast or famine, and although I’ve been lucky that most of my work tends to be more “feast,” I still miss the security of getting a paycheck every 2 weeks. I try to build up my savings and plan ahead, but there’s no guarantee that clients will pay in a timely manner (or at all). That has been a huge adjustment for me.
I also miss getting the paid vacation time, paid sick time, health insurance, and the retirement options that are typically provided as benefits with a full-time office job. I am covered under my husband’s health insurance, but I have to keep track of my tax payments and retirement savings. It’s easy to take those benefits for granted if you’ve never been self-employed.
. . . and 3 Things I Don’t
Will I ever get that promotion? Why has Janice from marketing been avoiding me? Do I really need to go to that department lunch? All things I don’t worry about anymore. With no boss or coworkers around to interact with (except through the computer), many of the situations I encountered while working in an office are nonexistent. A lot of the annoyances and worries that come with office politics get stripped away, and I can just focus on the work.
The woman three cubicles down who won’t get off the phone with her spouse. That one coworker who stops by your desk “just to chat.” The guy who never seems to do any work, even though you’ve stepped up to the plate to take on three new projects. (Does the boss even notice? Does he care? Is management dealing with this problem? UGH!) Freelance editing is largely a solitary activity, so I happily don’t have to worry about this problem anymore either. But even if you are working within a team, it quickly becomes obvious who is slacking off and who is pulling their weight. And usually it gets nipped in the bud.
Workin’ 9 to 5
As a freelancer, I have the freedom and flexibility to set my own schedule. If I don’t start working until 2 p.m. and then work late until 12 a.m., no one can demand that I do otherwise. I’ve always been a big believer in measuring results rather than time spent at a desk, and this belief has only grown stronger as I’ve ventured into freelancing. Sadly, I’ve had a few employers who clung to the “butt in seat” mentality and believed that if you weren’t at your desk from 9 o’clock on the dot until 5, you must not be getting anything done. But watching the clock doesn’t really help anyone. I’d much rather work for a few hours and make huge progress on a project or meet a big deadline than be tied to my desk all day just for the sake of being there.
What did I miss? What other aspects of office culture do you love or hate?