Wherever we choose to work nowadays is increasingly being influenced by what kind of lifestyle we can expect to come with our job. Granted, not everyone is afforded the luxury of having much choice in what they do for a living, whether by professional experience or living circumstances.
However, there are certain stereotypes positive and negative, that come attached to working in certain jobs or areas of employment.
There are now hundreds if not thousands of people living the “digital nomad” lifestyle that has inspired so many people in recent years to work freelance. A travelling photographer maxing out their portfolio with constant social media exposure through Instagram and Facebook. A systems engineer picking up work through jobs boards whilst staying in a villa in Bali. As a bystander, you would assume that these people absolutely have it made when it comes to living their best life, seemingly trading in the mundane and tedious existence of Monday to Friday 9-5, for the odyssey of adventure and tropical climates they now live in. You can “be your own boss” as well as “work your own hours”, and be anywhere in the world whilst you do it, to a certain extent.
In reality, whilst this Instagram worthy lifestyle may be stunning to look at, it is entirely circumstantial. For one, I can tell you that finding work is not necessarily the hardest part of the process but finding enough work to live off definitely is. There is no shortage of cheap, tedious, but not terribly difficult work on the internet for freelancers. But when you find yourself having to spend 70+ hours a week working to earn about two-thirds of what your monthly income is in a full-time position, the novelty of that beach in Bali or Thailand is going to be something you just don’t have time to enjoy. Truthfully, even if you happen on a gem and find yourself with a sweet short-term gig that pays well, you’re constantly going to be either looking for more work before it ends or taking on as much additional work as possible just to prepare for any sudden drop off in earnings. As an added bonus, you’re going to be going up against a lot of competition for these gigs, so you constantly have to stay one step ahead of the game when on the hunt for new work.
On the other hand, working in an office environment has modernised far more slowly than working freelance, but every year there are more and more businesses who are revamping their workspaces and making them far better places to work. Living in an age where we are able to quantify the exact losses a company can suffer from poorly motivated and poorly performing employees, as well as a growing emphasis on positive mental health, has definitely contributed to this. Dress-down days are becoming more popular. Some companies are investing in “office pets” to help boost morale. Break-rooms have gone from containing a fridge and a coffee machine to beds and games consoles. A full-time job in such an environment would seem positively blissful for some. But the reality is whilst certain positions like these exist, they may not be in companies that you find particularly rewarding to work at in terms of job satisfaction, or have positions that suit you at all.
What these type of offices are however is stable. Steady streams of hours, income, and expectations. You always know when you’re going to be working, what day you get paid, and how much. You can meet many of life’s commitments this way, although you trade most of your freedom by being restricted to moving and/or working in a particular area and environment. Freelancing is the total opposite of that, in theory. The reality of it is that no one will ever start freelancing (hopefully) without having the kind of security either physically or financially that someone who is working full-time has. You could view both forms of working as flip sides of the same coin. But if you’re thinking of flipping just be aware of the trade you make by moving to the other side.