If you read recent post on Currently Loving titled “3 Ways to Welcome Adventure into your Life”, you’ll know that I’m not a huge advocate for the 9-to-5. In this post, I discussed the perks of freelance or remote work: particularly, how this arrangement grants us the freedom to jump when opportunity calls. As freelancers, we self-direct a great deal of our everyday, our every month and our every year.
Ironically, it is the very practice of self-directing that brings me to the position in which I find myself now: trialling the long-opposed 9-to-5.
I feel the need to disclaim that I did not simply take on a 9-to-5 job in order to trial the lifestyle for this post. Had this been the reality, I totally would have revealed it with pride — I mean, talk about dedication, right? Unfortunately, to the job I’d leave after two weeks, it wouldn’t have done much credit.
I’ll tell you how this all came about. I recently concluded that I was in a position to take on more work. I know — where did that come from, right? I’m pretty sure that of my last 20 Instagram posts, a solid 15 tend to how I’ve busy I’ve been. But in the name of adventure, excitement and new challenges, here I am.
I applied for a part-time freelance job [for which I was hired], and it involves heading into an office just two full days a week over an initial few weeks. The aim is to familiarise myself with the clients’ digital accounts and the team itself — after which I’ll be able to work remotely, the way I do with the remainder of my work.
I should note before I go on that 99% of my freelance jobs are regular and consistent work. Although more or less work may be required, when I refer to freelancing in this post [and in most other content on Currently Loving], I don’t refer to the struggle to get weekly jobs. Whilst I’m sure that this introduces an entirely new challenge [and potential con] to the freelance lifestyle, it’s not one I personally negotiate nor condone, in fact. After all, the stereotype of a freelancer displays work as unpredictable and financially unstable. Tip from me: if you’re going to go freelance, look for consistent or regular contracts. These will provide you with freedom, but also security [which let’s be honest, we all need to a certain extent].
Over the past couple of weeks, and for a couple more, I’m getting a taste for the office environment. Better yet, I’m relinquishing a chance to finally classify my thoughts on the 9-to-5 versus freelance lifestyle.
Until now, I’ve worked all summer in a café. I’ve interned from 9-to-5. Funnily enough, however, all my roles since being a student [both incidentally, and once I realised their value, purposefully] have seen my avoidance of “working life” that involves 8 hours at a desk and an 8.30am report time. I figure that it’s probably about time I experienced the lifestyle that many of us live everyday.
What’s ideal about this little transition period is not solely the opportunity to experiment — but the opportunity to share it! Consider this another attempt of mine to be informative / strategically opinionated, for whoever wishes to indulge in my notoriously-millennial content. Without further ado, the pros and cons of the 9-to-5.
PRO: Office chit-chat.
Okay, so obviously if you work as a freelancer [unless you’ve got freelancer friends, who you somehow manage to be productive alongside] you’re probably going to lack somewhat of a social environment when it comes to work. For me, this has never been an issue. I consider myself a pretty outgoing, forward individual — so I’m content to pursue my social life in other realms that aren’t work [say, through my blogging]. I’m also very likely to break my day up between seeing friends, sharing phone calls and talking to strangers in cafés [after all, I very rarely spend my entire working day at home].
I suppose it depends on the type of person you are: whether you’re naturally social and well-acquainted with directing your social scene, or whether you need to be forced into socialisation. If the latter better describes you, an office environment is probably a good idea. There’s no doubt that the everyday chats provide a bit of unpredictable amusement that can certainly lift a dull [or even exciting] afternoon of work ahead.
To socialise, for most of us, provides a great source of happiness. What’s more, it’s satisfying to be apart of a collaborative environment. To share a good morning with someone — and for them to [pretend or not] care about how you slept or what you watched or what you had for dinner. This is nice. Necessary? Again, it depends on the type of person you are, and where else you might [or mightn’t] source this nature of conversation.
PRO/CON: Increased levels of productivity.
I’d argue in some instances, that the 9-to-5 lifestyle has the potential to promote productivity. After all, we’re required to report at a certain time — whether this be 8.30am or 10am — and we’re not allowed to leave [wow, that escalated quickly] until approximately 5pm. For those of us who are likely to sleep in, to become distracted or to favour any other activity over work, this is ideal. It makes us accountable to someone else.
As a freelancer, you’re obviously accountable to getting certain work done, and usually by a certain deadline too. With that said, the way you negotiate the time prior to that deadline is up to you. So essentially, you’re accountable to yourself up until that due date. If your self-discipline is lacking, it might help to have your boss sitting just a desk away.
Because you’re obligated to be at a desk for majority of the 9-to-5 hours [and not really permitted to scroll your social feeds for a single one of them], you’re only option is to work. You’re going through a slump? Work. You’re feeling hungry after your break? Work. There really isn’t much of an alternative.
If you’re freelance and you’re fading, however, you could choose to do something else. Go for a walk. Do something creative. Make some food. Go workout. If you’re the type of person to take a break too far [whoops, did I just take the whole afternoon off?], you might find that freelancing backfires for you.
CON: Decreased flexibility.
If you’re apt at balancing freedom with work responsibilities, I’d argue the world is your oyster as a freelancer. And I mean that quite literally. You can essentially plan trips and travel whenever you want to — so long as you’re still working or have negotiated certain arrangements with your clients.
It also means that you have more flexibility in your day-to-day life. Week-day brunch with a friend? Totally an option. Mid-day workouts to enhance afternoon productivity? Absolutely. As a remote worker, you have the freedom to decide and negotiate how your days best look and/or operate.
For myself, if blogging opportunities arise — events, collaborations, etc — I’m able to take these on. All I have to do is ensure that I’m balancing both forms of work. Sometimes, this can actually increase my productivity. When I’m growing old with a client’s marketing task, I’ll curate some content for my blog. Instead of mucking around, I’m able to divert my attention to something entirely different in order to maintain my interest and productivity. I can even do something for me. This is perfect if you’re passionate about the growth of your side hustle.
In the case of the 9-to-5, you’re typically committed to devoting every hour to a single genre of task; to one job or one brand. Naturally, this limits a great deal of differentiation on our to-do lists. Some individuals will find this favourable. Others, like myself, who find stimulation in the creative or the analytical across differing moments, mightn’t favour it to the same extent.
What’s more, in order to travel or to take on other opportunities, 9-to-5 workers are required to ask for time off. You’ll likely have a cap on how often you can ask [before the guilt or the ill reputation sets in]. You’ll also have a limit to how long you can actually vacate for [even in the case you’re only leaving to pursue work-related commitments!].
Put it this way: when it comes to the 9-to-5, they call it a grind for a reason. And that’s usually because you have no choice or freedom from the grind. You simply must grind [at least, until 5pm].
PRO: Ease of work and home-life separation.
What I’ve learnt so far of the 9-to-5, is that against all odds, 5pm actually does arrive. And on the strike of the hour, you’re able to both literally and figurative clock off work. As a freelancer, however, you set your own hours — which again, represents both good and bad of the lifestyle.
We often discuss the lack of set location when it comes to freelancing as a positive thing. It can also be characteristically negative. After all, when your work isn’t attached to a certain place, you can literally do it anywhere. Let me say that again with slightly different inflections, so you can discern where I’m going with this. You can literally. Work. Anywhere.
Once again, this requires some serious ability to self-direct. Common questions you’ll ask yourself as a freelancer include: Was I productive enough today? Should I shut off at 5pm or keep working this evening? Should I be at home doing work right now? Should I answer that e-mail now or enjoy my weekend?
When you work from 9-to-5, the hours that don’t exist in that time bracket are yours to spend as you wish. That you can’t pick up work even if you wanted to, makes it less likely that you’ll, A) think about the work. B) Feel guilty about the work. And C), wind up doing the work. In terms of separating work and home life, this obviously makes it a whole lot easier.
To this day, I’m still attempting to work out that balance as a freelancer. I must admit [in the least cocky way, if you will] that I struggle little with motivation, being that I am both determined and hard-working. For this sake, I struggle more with deciding when to shut off. When it’s right to leave an e-mail for later. To accept that it’s me-time now.
That’s definitely one of the downsides of freelancing: that wherever you go, your work comes with you. And it’s a skill that we have to learn on top of our profession: to know when it’s right to leave it behind.
PRO/CON: Feeling all corporate and professional.
Much as you are — still corporate and professional — you don’t really get an utmost sense of this reality as a freelancer. I’ll admit, this is somewhat self-induced. I tend to gravitate towards the comfier of my smart attire on days I’m not meeting with anyone work-related. I suppose that I could opt out of comfort for corporate attire more often, if I really wanted to. The difference being it might feel a little bit senseless.
It is undoubtedly a perk that I can get away with wearing no make-up and comfy jeans, as a freelancer. That said, it also means I feel a little less like Andy in The Devil Wears Prada than perhaps I desire to [you know the part when she’s finally nailing things, and she looks all glamorous and she can now hold the coffees and the clothes and her phone at once? Yeah, you know].
You kind of feel like this when you’re heading into an office. Especially if you’ve decided to pick up a coffee. In that case, you’ve pretty much made it. You may as well turn around and go home. You’ve peaked.
Take it from me and every other lifestyle blogger that snaps their morning coffee: there is no more to corporate achievement than this moment.
CON: End-of-day fatigue.
For lack of a better way to put it, there’s something about the office environment that provokes the experience of extreme end-of-day fatigue. No wonder people return home from their day jobs and sit on the couch for the rest of the evening. It’s honestly all you feel like doing. After staring at a screen all day, with just a single break to properly move my body and divert my gaze, my eyes, and oddly enough, my body felt tired. I hit a wall far earlier in the evening than I usually would.
As a freelancer, I’ll often work into the evening quite happily. I’m usually go-go-go right up until dinner — whether I manage to fit in another workout, finalise a couple of additional tasks, upload a blog post, edit a Youtube video, etc. It totally depends on the evening, and obviously, it is ideal to switch off and spend time with your partner and/or family. But I like to know I have the option [and the capacity] to keep working, should I wish to do so.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve made a conscious effort to even exercise in the morning, aware I won’t feel like doing so on my return from work. While this probably provoked my hitting a wall earlier in the day, I was glad I did it — because damn, I felt so much more tired than usual at the end of a day.
For those who hope to maximise the evenings for their side hustle, I’d argue that the 9-to-5 doesn’t really promote it. I suppose this isn’t entirely surprising: whoever you work for probably doesn’t dream of your side hustle actually lifting off.
It’s no surprise as well that people talk of pursuing their dreams, but struggle to make any progress while working 9-to-5. The nature of how you’ll spend these hours — sedentary at a desk — sucks the life out of you by 5pm. The last thing you feel like doing is to continue working.
The “in-between” hours — that is, the ones that aren’t 9-to-5 — become these sacred moments in which we feel owed an opportunity to relax. Having spent all hours of the day dedicating our time to others, it only feels right to use the evening for ourselves. As a freelancer, however, you don’t create this same attachment to certain hours. After all, each and every one is yours to decide how you spend it. You’ll probably include several breaks in there, which help to avoid the same sort of drained feeling come end-of-day.
PRO/CON: You probably don’t get to enjoy amazing lunches — unless you’re on MealPal.
In the past couple of weeks as a part-time player of the 9-to-5 [ooh look at me], I trialled the pretty clever service that is MealPal. It’s an app that saves time for city-based dwellers who have just a half-hour lunch break. This is hardly enough time to walk to a nearby food spot; to place an order, have it made and to return to work on time — never mind actually eating the food.
As a solution, the app grants members access to a range of meals from local establishments at 5pm the day before. You have until 10.30am the next day to place your order and to state the time you’ll be there to pick it up. When you arrive at your chosen establishment, they’ll have your meal ready and waiting for you. If not, final preparation won’t take longer than two minutes, ensuring we can actually indulge in lunch, as opposed to shovel it down on the way back to work.
It’s a win-win for both the customer and the restaurant too — who reduce their time and costs of production by offering just a single meal per day on the app.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve enjoyed a plethora of different meals from poké bowls to nacho bowls to a delicious vegan banh mi. I’d argue it’s made me far more experimental than usual. I was trialling new foodie spots [an obvious favourite pastime of mine] and yet, maximising each minute of my break simultaneously.
I’ll be honest, if you’re pushed for time, it does pay to know the location of your chosen establishment before you go searching for it. I spent one of my breaks trailing Melbourne Central, looking for Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill — of which Google Maps was no help. Thank goodness they were ready with my meal when I arrived. By that stage, I was certainly cutting it short to get back to work.
That aside, I was super impressed by the app; it’s ease of use and navigation. I loved that I could change my order right up until 10.30am — and even, alter the time that it’d be ready [in case I changed my mind, wanting lunch earlier or later]. I came across some news spots and new meals, that I most definitely wouldn’t have without MealPal.
Good news is, if you’re from Melbourne and you’re a busy, working professional [like thyself momentarily], MealPal is celebrating their first birthday in Melbourne by offering FREE lunch for a month — your second month with MealPal — for anyone who signs up for their first month here. Keep in mind you don’t have to order everyday of the month nor consecutively — simply the days that you decide to use MealPal.
If this weren’t enough, you can expect to pay less than $8 per lunch [and never more than $10] for a meal. You’re able to filter options based on dietary requirements, how much food you want and more! It’s pretty unreal. In fact, it’s almost enough reason to get excited about the 9-to-5 lifestyle alone.
Coming from me, that says a lot. For if I’m honest, there’s little I’d trade for the freedom of my everyday. I think at the moment, I’m enjoying a taste of the 9-to-5, for I’m only doing so 2 days a week. As I’m sure you’ll agree, that’s hardly enough obligation to warrant stamping my feet for freedom just yet.
It’s safe to say the 9-to-5 works for me — as a novelty. At the end of the day, I’m glad that I’ll be returning to an ability to work from anywhere in a few weeks time. For those who, like myself, have many interests and dreams that don’t necessarily resonate with one place or destination, the lifestyle of a freelancer is certainly most appealing.
With that said, I do think it’s a discussion that could be taken either way — hence the creation of this post. I’d love to hear your thoughts in response. What’s been your experience of the 9-to-5? What about remote-working — for this certainly isn’t all glitter and roses either! If you’d like me to talk about the reality of working remotely, let me know.
Leave a comment below or DM me on my Instagram, @currentlylovingblog! Let’s start a conversation about the best way to build a lifestyle that suits the unique individuals we are and the differing dreams we have.
Have a great week, everyone!
Wearing: Bronze Snake drop-crotch pants, Forever New jacket, top [unknown], Boohoo black floral embroidery bag, K-mart Short Heel Gussel boots, miscellaneous rings, Arise Collective Nowra polarised sunglasses.
Images captured by Adrian Jackson, edited by McKenzie Collins.