(Updated 21st January 2019) Having a permanent position in a company gives you stability, financial security and routine. However if you don’t love what you do, none of this means anything.
You could be making a substantial salary or work with good people, but if you don’t thrive under office hours or working for someone else, you’ll probably be unhappy.
One answer to job dissatisfaction that works for millions in the UK is self-employment, 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 are a few characteristics of self-employment that entices thousands of employees to quit their full-time jobs in favour of contracting or self-employment. We’ve listed 5 reasons why people love contracting and freelancing:
1. Goodbye office politics
In many offices there are politics such as hidden agendas, gossip, rumours, conflicts of interests and micromanaging. This environment can be taxing on your mental health, leading to stress outside of work.
As a contractor or freelancer, you are more removed from the complex relationships that spur on office politics even if your role still places you in an office environment. 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 greater 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. You can even negotiate more flexible working hours in a contract that suits your lifestyle whilst still meeting client objectives.
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 power over your own work-life balance.
3. No glass ceiling
Depending on the company, you can be severely limited in terms of progression 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 can mean more holidays and time off if you choose – such as time off between contracts or a long weekend and shorter work week. As long as your contractual obligations are fulfilled you are free to do as you please. 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 income or deadlines. Careful financial planning could enable you to take a few months a year off work! Even freelancers who take their work on the road usually do so willingly as they love what they do.
5. Increased income potential
Many contractors and freelancers work in specialised fields, which means they can be paid better for their work as their skills are in high demand. Professionals in thriving industries – 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 a higher take home pay and even claim some expenses in relation to your work.
Contracting and freelancing may not be part and parcel with financial security, but many self-employed veterans will tell you that with the right plan, you can love your contracting career while saving for retirement or living mortgage-free.
Responsibilities as a contractor or freelancer
Having career control comes with 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.
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 truly self-employed.
Read more about contracting and freelancing – including how to run a business when you’re self-employed.