What are the pros and cons of freelancing, or part-time, or remote jobs? At various points we’ve probably all wondered about what it would be like if we had a less “traditional” job. If you’re finding yourself thinking that the grass may be greener elsewhere, we decided to peruse the experiences of others who’ve been down those paths and read a lot of online stories and advice for those thinking of making the leap to a freelance, part-time or remote-working job and career.
To keep things simple, we tried to summarize the main benefits and issues with these job types at the highest level possible. Of course for every type of industry and profession, there may be nuances since a part-time attorney is not going to have identical lifestyle and work issues as a freelance web designer.
Pros: You are your own boss, which means you play by your own rules.
It’s completely true that you don’t have to work with anyone you don’t want to, take on any assignment that you choose. You may (and many seem to) gain a lot of control over your time, your client base, and the type of work you do. You can cut down on commute time, balance other life-priorities on an ad-hoc, or project-by-project basis which means you can also change your mind about the kind of boss you want to be.
Cons: It is a lot of responsibility to essentially run a small business.
Most freelancers and advice about becoming a freelancer seems to requires a lot of hustle, time and energy to earn your keep which means that before you are well-established, you may have to work more and have even less control of your schedule (due to client demands) than you had while employed full-time. Since you’re not an employee, you will also have to pay for the benefits like healthcare or vacation or disability out of your own pocket, which is part of the expense of running a freelance business.
As one freelance writer concludes: “It’s not always simple, but the payoff is a job that I love and work-life balance that would never be possible in a traditional work arrangement. In the end, it wasn’t all about passion and paychecks. However, I realized that if you have the two, it only takes a little more effort to figure out “
Pros: You have more time for other things (whether those things are family, hobbies, other responsibilities or even other part-time jobs / entrepreneurial projects).
Assuming that you are choosing to work part-time (as opposed to just taking a part-time job to get your foot in the door somewhere), the most obvious advantage to working part-time is having more time for other pursuits and interests. Many times, mothers are interested in part-time work due to the fact that they have family and care-taking responsibilities but others may be interested in part-time work so they can simply have more time for other activities (including side-projects or entrepreneurial pursuits).
Cons: Most employers do not offer benefits or the same job security to part-time employees and there is more uncertainty about your place at the company, in general.
As Laura Vanderkam points out, part-time work is often “stigmatized” even though others say that “meaningful part-time work is the holy grail of work/life balance for many women.” That’s because going part-time or even requesting it may make your colleagues view you as less committed to your job. In fact, many part-timers accept less than their pro-rata reduction in pay just to compensate for the concern that they may seem less productive or committed.
That said some women, like Anneke Van Dien, say that they “never want a full-time job again.” At first, she worked part-time because she simply wanted one job that paid for the bills, and another to pursue her passions. Then, she went part-time in order to save financially on child-care and to spend more time with her toddler. It’s not necessarily an easy decision, but clearly one that some women make happily. New business models and companies are taking advantage of the fact that many women with children feel similarly.
Pros: You can save time and costs of commuting, work more flexibly in many remote jobs, and you can choose to work in many different environments and locations that might suit your personality and personal life needs.
Technology has made it more likely than ever that many knowledge-based work can be done remotely. Sure, you can’t be a remote waitress or doctor but for many others, remote-working is a real possibility for their role. You can save a huge amount of time and money by working remotely, and it is something that can improve your job satisfaction as well as improve your work-life balance.
Cons: It may be hard to get certain types of jobs, plum projects, or promotions without the face-to-face relationship building that your traditional co-workers will receive on a daily basis. Depending on your personality, you may also miss the energy and lack of interpersonal interaction with others and you will may have to create a structure for your day and be more self-disciplined than the average bear.
One fan of remote working, Brooke Tomasetti is a marketing professional. Tomasetti shares her quite structured work schedule when she works remotely and points out that while she “only typically works one or twos days a week from home”, it “makes a huge difference” in her happiness and productivity.
While it may seem hard to make the transition between a full-time traditional job to one that involves remote work schedules, a part-time schedule or freelancing, it’s certainly possible and clearly seems to be the right decision for some.
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