By Jonathan London on 14th July 2015

The perks you will lose by going freelance

For those with the right mindset and skills, going freelance will be a dream come true. You’ll get to shake off the shackles of your permanent role, be your own boss, set your own professional path and make a living doing what you love.

Nevertheless, it’s important to be aware of the difference between dreams and reality, and accept that there will be some downsides to their new way of working. Going freelance can be enormously fulfilling, but it’s undeniable that there are a few unique perks to permanent contract-based roles that you’ll have to be prepared to sacrifice.

Before making the decision to go freelance, you need to give proper consideration to all of the advantages of being a permie and decide whether you’re truly ready to give them up before you take the plunge – after all, nobody wants to rush into a decision they’ll later regret.

Job security
The old-fashioned model of a “job for life” is pretty outdated these days, but there’s no doubt that working for an employer provides a certain degree of certainty and security that the world of freelancing can’t replicate.

As a permie, your employer is legally bound to provide you with certain rights and benefits that don’t exist for freelancers. When you work for yourself people can also quickly find that their business model might not be viable, in which case their enterprise can fold in an instant, with no advance warning or notice period.

These are all good reasons why many people remain in their permanent roles during the early stages of their freelance career to take advantage of that safety net while they still can.

A guaranteed steady pay and workload
As a freelancer, there’s always the possibility of hitting a rich seam of lucrative work and seeing the money roll in – but that’s tempered by the likelihood of an equal number lean patches where clients are hard to come by.

When you’re a permie on a payroll, you’ll receive a flat salary rate regardless, but when you go freelance you’ll have to be able to tough out these dry spells and work proactively to address them if you want to make ends meet.

Similarly, the only person controlling your workload as a freelancer is yourself, so that might lead you to experience some periods where you’re snowed under, and other times when you’re sat twiddling your thumbs. A permanent worker can delegate work or ask for help – you won’t have that luxury.

Supervision and protection
You may not always get on with your boss, but they fulfil functions that you might not fully appreciate until after they’re gone. When you have a line manager, there’s always someone to ask for guidance and assistance, to go to with complaints, and to take responsibility when something goes wrong.

When you’re working as your own boss, the buck stops with you, and you need to be able to cope with that responsibility if you’re going to succeed as a freelancer.

Paid holiday time and sickness leave
One of the major downsides of being a freelancer is that every minute you spend not working is a minute spent not earning.

As a permie, there are provisions in place to make sure you can get some much-needed time off for relaxation or recuperation from an illness without losing money, but freelancers will need to work extra-hard either before or after an absence in order to prevent it from blowing a hole in their balance sheets.

That can be tough for people who aren’t able to work constantly for any reason, and it’s something that’s worth considering before you make the jump to freelancing.

Separation between work and leisure time
Working a nine-to-five job can be a draining grind sometimes, but there are few feelings better than seeing the clock roll over to 5pm, putting your work stresses out of your head and going home for peaceful relaxation.

It’s a feeling that’s often denied to freelancers, who often feel they are always on the clock, with no clear separation between their work and leisure time, making it seem like their home is a workplace they can never leave.

You won’t last long as a freelancer if you aren’t proactive about creating your own ways of making your working hours and free time distinct from each other, and ensuring you spend enough time looking after your personal needs. The alternative is certain burnout, and the risk of turning your ideal work/life dream into a nightmare.

Jonathan London Written by Jonathan London

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