Having a permanent position in a company gives you stability, financial security and routine. However, none of this means anything if you don’t love what you do.
You could be making a substantial salary or work with good people, but if you’re not suited to 9 to 5 office hours or working for someone else, you’ll probably be unhappy.
One answer to job dissatisfaction that seems to work for millions in the UK is self-employment, aka contracting or freelancing. Over 15% of the UK’s workforce now identifies as self-employed – whether that means contracting, freelancing or working in the gig economy.
There must be something that’s enticing millions of employees to quit their full-time jobs and turn to self-employment. We’ve listed 5 reasons why people love contracting and freelancing:
1. No office politics
In many offices there can be a lot of politics – hidden agendas, conflicts of interests and micromanaging can be taxing on your mental health and can lead to stress outside of work.
As a contractor or freelancer, you are removed from the complex relationships that spur on office politics. For those who are truly self-employed, there is no boss to answer to, and no requirement to get involved in a company’s particular culture.
Without office politics, you can focus on your projects and your own career goals without worrying about anyone else’s opinion.
2. Greater flexibility
Contracting or freelancing gives you more choice in how you work – and when. It has been known to provide greater opportunity for work-life balance – it’s simply up to you how you choose to use your time.
There are so many options in self-employment, and joining the world of flexible work means you are not forced to fit into a mould or meet the status quo. There are few greater feelings of self-achievement than when you have the power over your own work-life balance.
3. No glass ceiling
Depending on the company, you can sometimes be severely limited to what you can achieve in a permanent role. Salary limits or promotional glass ceilings often stop people from achieving the next step in their careers.
As a contractor, what you get out of your career is dependant on the effort you put in to achieve success. Networking, upskilling and working on various projects for different clients not only adds diversity to your CV; it also gives you the experience you need to ask for higher rates and better contracts each time you go for a new role or project.
4. More holidays and time off
True self-employment involves not having to turn up to work if you don’t want to. As a contractor, you can take off and go travelling, or take some time with your family, anytime you want as long as your contractual obligations are fulfilled. Freelancers, particularly those who work purely online, can work from almost anywhere – home, a beach, a cottage, etc.
The important thing to remember when you have the power to take time off is to actually take the time. Too many self-employed people overwork themselves for fear of missing out on money or deadlines. Careful financial planning could allow you to take a few months a year off work! Even freelancers who have to take their work on the road usually don’t mind as they love what they do.
5. Increased income
Many contractors and freelancers work in specialised fields, which means they can get paid better for their work as their skills are in high demand. Professionals in thriving industries in particular, such as cybersecurity, can enjoy lucrative contracting careers as their skills are highly sought after.
Depending on how you get paid as a contractor or freelancer, and your working circumstances in terms of IR35 legislation, you can enjoy high take home pay and even claim some expenses in relation to your work.
Contracting and freelancing may not come with financial security, but many self-employed veterans will tell you that with careful financial planning, you can love your contracting career and still save for retirement or live mortgage-free.
Responsibilities as a contractor or freelancer
Alongside having career control comes responsibility for your own business and taxes. You need to be able to wear many hats – the contractor/freelancer, the manager, the director, the marketer, and the accountant all at once.
However, most career contractors and freelancers will tell you that there’s no better way to work – because they love what they do and how they are able to live. Plus with the right business support you can minimise any hassle and stress that comes alongside being self-employed.
Read more about contracting and freelancing – including how to run a business when you’re self-employed.