The freelance economy is growing rapidly; so rapidly, in fact, that if it continues at the current rate, it’s estimated that freelancers will make up over 50% of the total workforce by 2027. Both freelance and permanent work have their own advantages and disadvantages, so in this article, we’ll examine some of the benefits both offer, and how you can take the best parts from each to create a situation that suits you.
Benefits of freelance work
A key advantage of freelance work is that your daily rate will jump up, even once income tax has been deducted. Working as a freelancer comes with lower operating costs, so more of the fee paid by the client goes directly into your pocket.
But permanent work also offers financial advantages. The most crucial of these is regular pay, including when you’re on holiday or off sick. There’s also a chance you could receive bonuses or incentives, or commission if you make a certain number of sales.
2. Control over your career
In general, freelancers have greater control over how their career develops. This is because they can monitor and adapt the direction their career is heading in while working on short-term projects.
However, permanent employees can enjoy this control, too. Some companies understand and appreciate that their employees need variety and change to allow them to grow and develop, so they stay at the company for longer. To keep employees engaged for longer, they offer opportunities for staff to go on courses or rotate roles internally.
Freelancers enjoy complete autonomy over their projects, choosing which ones they accept. As the only point of contact with their client, they have a clear overview of their project. Autonomy also comes in flexibility in terms of when and where they work, with freelancers often working remotely.
Now, however, lots of companies are beginning to offer employees greater flexibility in their working environment. They reward employees who show initiative and entrepreneurship, so motivation comes from the employees themselves.
4. No bureaucratic overheads
One thing people might dislike about their workplace is the hierarchy that’s in place. Some companies have a complex organisational structure with 9 or more reporting levels, and others have rules about who employees may or may not contact directly. This has a negative impact on communication as things move slowly, and offers few chances for newer employees to learn from more experienced colleagues.
If direct communication is more your thing and you don’t appreciate rules limiting your efficiency, freelance work would most likely suit you better, or perhaps a permanent role within an environment with a flat hierarchy.
Benefits of a permanent position
Just as with freelance work, the key benefit of permanent work is financial. You enjoy financial security, knowing when you will get paid and that it will be the same amount each month.
Freelancers, however, risk being the first person a company gets rid of when savings need to be made.
2. Team environment
Humans are social animals by nature. Once you find a workplace with a company culture that suits you, you might even feel like it’s an extension of your family. You know your colleagues on a personal level, which makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger. It also makes you work more efficiently, because you know exactly who to ask when you need information about or help with something specific.
With freelance work, though, your clients and projects change every few months, meaning you never really get to experience this personal connection and team environment, and have to find your way by yourself.
If a company has made the effort to select and hire you on a permanent basis, they will be eager to keep you for a long time. This means they’ll be willing to invest in you, perhaps providing training programmes and courses which aren’t available to freelancers.
However, it’s equally important for freelancers to keep up to date with new technology and tools, especially if you’re working in a technical position. The industry changes rapidly, so if you want to keep being offered projects and stand out from the competition, it’s crucial to keep improving and expanding your skills.
Another key benefit of permanent work is being able to learn from colleagues and take advantage of their knowledge. Working with experts in an environment with open communication channels allows you to learn a lot.
As a freelancer, though, you’re expected to spend all your time bringing benefits to the company that hired you, leaving little time for you to learn on the job.
How can I make the most of both?
With all of that in mind, how can you combine the benefits of freelance and permanent work? The key is either to work as a freelancer and improve some of the disadvantages of freelance status, or work in a permanent role and enhance some of the less desirable elements of that. Let’s break the two solutions down.
Temporary contract with permanent benefits
This solution can offer the following benefits usually linked with permanent jobs:
- Financial security: If you work with a recruitment agency, they will be responsible for paying your invoices. This means you don’t need to worry about clients who try to elongate the payment period.
- Education: Taking a course on your own can be expensive and time-consuming, but this doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Try online platforms like NHA, which sometimes offer discounts on courses. You could also go to peer-organised events like meetups to learn more from others, or alternatively take free courses without going through the paid certification at the end of it. At first, it might be difficult to secure a project which requires a skill you don’t have a certification for, but all it takes is for one employer to give you the benefit of the doubt. After that, your portfolio will grow and your CV will speak for itself.
- Stability and team environment: As a freelancer, you can still enjoy both of these. Why not look for longer-term missions? These will offer you a sense of stability and you’ll get to know your team better. Some companies favour longer missions, including MediaMarkt and Red Cross. You can also create your own opportunities to lengthen your contract – write a plan of suggested improvements you could make and present it to the manager before your project is complete. Another option is to work with an agency; they can negotiate the length of your mission with your client.
It’s clear that there doesn’t have to be a black and white divide between freelance and permanent work. If you want to have the best of both worlds, there are plenty of possibilities open to you that offer exactly that. Grab the opportunity now and find a position that suits you perfectly.