It’s been a wild ride, right? Living the super-casual freelance lifestyle, doing everything on your own terms, making your own hours and working in your own pajamas – no commitment or real obligations to a company except for delivering the goods on time. It’s kind of like dating until finding the right person to settle down with, eschewing exclusivity in the name of freedom, variety, and opportunity.
But then the day arrives when you think you’re done hustling for work, that it might be nice to have a company take care of you for a change. (Healthcare that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, perhaps?) If the idea of putting on real pants and leaving the house to go to work is something you’re ready to wrap your head around, then you’re ready to make the transition from working freelance to in-house!
Working freelance, from home or the workspace of your choice, definitely has its perks, but so does working in an office environment. Offices get a bad rap for the stifling rules, bad lighting, lame parties, internal politics, etc., but it’s wrong to prejudge working in an office environment and assume it’s going to cramp your style. It has quite a few advantages that will only serve to make you a better worker (if you let it).
When I work from home as a freelancer, I describe myself as the human embodiment of the phrase “herding cats.” I do what I want. I’m distracted easily. Do I take care of business? Of course I do, but it takes a lot of focus for me to get down to brass tacks. My motto has always been, “If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” Not all freelancers are like me, but after years of talking to many, many, many freelancers, I know that many of us have very similar methods of madness.
Going back to the office forces us to be in a certain place at a certain time, and that place and that time are dedicated to working. You don’t cook at your office, clean it, sleep in it, or watch TV in it. Chances are your adorable but distracting pet is not at the office, or at least not on a regular basis. No, you are in a place where you are supposed to do exactly one thing: your job. Other people are counting on you here, and they can see you and find you if they need something from you. Like Santa Claus, they know when you are sleeping, they know when you’re awake, they know if you’ve been bad or good, so be a good coworker, for goodness’ sake. It’s hard to get used to, but at the office, you have to be “on” all the time. No tuning out, no wasting time.
But that’s a great thing! It’s so easy to be all over the place when working from home and dealing with multiple clients and companies. Working for one place in-house will help you channel your energy in one direction. Plus, at the end of the day, you get to leave it at the office! Hopefully!
Attention introvert freelancers: it’s time to come out of your shell. You don’t have to be the life of the party in the office, but you do have to talk to people face-to-face a lot more often than you used to. This will be a huge adjustment, but it’s one that will be great for you as a human being. While working from home, did you ever realize that you go entire days without saying anything out loud, changing your clothes, or going outdoors? We all love our precious lazy, do-nothing days, but let’s face it – sometimes working from home provides us zero momentum to socialize after hours. If it’s been long enough, it might even feel awkward to interact with your own family and friends. And no, one-sided conversations with your pets don’t count as “human interaction.”
Your return to the office is also a return to being a functioning member of the human race. Embrace it. You have been missed.
A company is paying you to come to their office and work for them. In addition to that, many companies do what they can to make your stay more enjoyable. Aside from benefits (if you’re lucky enough to get those), office perks are nothing to sneeze at. Free lunches, outings, happy hours, maybe even a great view or a great location. You might even really enjoy the company of your coworkers, in which case you get to hang out with friends all day!
The best news about all of this – none of this changes who you are as a creative force. You were hired because of the work you were doing as a freelancer, and you can still turn out quality work with your own personal stamp on it. Now you’re just doing it in a different place and with people around. While it’s similar to “settling down” after dating, it’s almost the opposite; rather than spending time all by yourself, you’re now spending it with several coworkers. And rather than letting yourself go, wearing sweatpants all day, you now have to spiff yourself up to be the presentable, impressive employee you promised to be. But you are still you, and working in-house will never change that.
Jamie is a Creative Circle candidate in New York. If you are interested in working with someone like Jamie, contact your nearest Creative Circle office.