According to the latest estimates, freelance workers are expected to account for 50% of the fulltime workforce in the US by 2020. The massive rise in freelance working – in the US and a large number of other countries – is leading to changes in workers’ behaviour and approach, as more and more individuals begin to appreciate the benefits that freelance working brings.
In this spirit, we take a quick look at seven things that freelancers can do that 9-5 workers can’t.
1. Let’s start with the old cliché about freelancers working in their pyjamas. It’s true. At least it’s true that freelancers have this option. My husband and I are both freelancers. While he is happy to wake up and immediately begin work in his pyjamas, personally I have to be up and dressed in order to feel like I am doing a ‘proper’ day’s work.
2. Another cliché is the freelancer’s afternoon nap, which is certainly something that is discouraged (and may even lead to disciplinary proceedings) in most 9-5 roles. Studies have shown that well-timed naps can lead to increased productivity and improved mental agility, so this is definitely one of the advantages of being freelancer.
3. One of the most modern clichés is the freelancer’s ability to access social networks during the day. While many 9-5 workers would be in trouble with the boss for using Facebook during the day, freelancers are free to choose their own working pace and their own distractions, including social networking as much as they please.
4. The freedom to set your own schedule is one of the main advantages of working freelance. Other than client deadlines, there is little to dictate the days and times at which you must work. This is particularly useful for workers juggling their work schedule with family commitments or health issues, as freelancing provides a level of flexibility that makes this much easier.
5. A similarly useful schedule-related benefit is freelancers’ ability to complete tasks such as the weekly shop or a trip to the doctor according to their own timetable. Rather than being forced to race to the supermarket after work finishes at 5 pm, along with the masses, freelancers can take advantage of a lovely, quiet stroll around the store earlier in the day, making the whole experience far more appealing.
6. Professional freelancers are free to dictate when they will go on holiday and for how long. They are not bound by contractual obligations in the same way that 9-5 workers are. If a freelancer wants to take six weeks off work, he can (assuming he can afford the loss of income that this will entail). For a 9-5 worker, such a long break would no doubt involve various forms and discussions with their employer about taking so much time off for a holiday.
7. Another huge advantage that freelancers have is the ability to choose the location of their work. From Thailand to the Ukraine, freelancers are taking advantage of sun-drenched and tax-friendly locations in order to relocate to the place they want to live, something that most 9-5 workers in fixed locations can only dream of.
Of course there are disadvantages to freelancing as well (lack of sick/holiday/maternity pay being chief among them), but it seems that for more and more individuals, the pros are proving to outweigh the cons.
What is your favourite freelance activity that you couldn’t do in a 9-5 job? Share your thoughts via the comment box.