Contract work is a fast-growing, flexible, and demanding employment arrangement. However much it grows though, contract workers and freelancers still have an air of ‘mystery’ about them – mostly because a number of strange myths around contract work haven’t been dispelled yet.
In the spirit of creating a realistic approach to contract employment for workers looking to take the leap, we’ll be giving a no-bull breakdown of some common myths about working in the gig economy. It’s not all sunshine and roses, but it’s flexible, it’s challenging, and it’s worth considering.
The things people say about contract work, and the reality:
1. ‘Contract employment is not a choice’
Contract or gig workers are often asked what pushed them into the gig economy. Was it retrenchment? A falling out with a boss? Inability to find work?
Sometimes, these events are triggers for a career change, but starting out as a contractor requires planning, strong administration skills, and extreme self-discipline. Being able to make the transition from permanent employment to successful freelance work takes drive. The myth that this employment choice is a stop-gap until something more permanent comes along is far from true.
The truth? Contingent work is a practical and strategic career move.
2. ‘Most contractors are creatives’
Many freelancers are. However, the demographic split of a career in contracting is diverse – and becoming more so as companies start to embrace the contractor’s benefits.
In the age of Uber, we’ll start seeing more and more of these workers, including those in skilled positions.
Contingent work is not just for creative types: the future of work is contracting, and there are systems put in place (like ours) that help contractors to get going.
3. ‘You can focus on your strengths only’
As a contractor, your focus needs to be primarily on the service you provide… plus everything else.
Because competition is stiff, knowing what’s what outside of your specific role will stand you in good stead.
In addition, a contractor needs to make sure they’re on top of their admin game with invoicing, tax, expenditure, and insurance.
There is no ‘single focus’ in contract work. The upside? Personal growth, learning curves, and full control of your own finances. Setting up a good structure first is a good idea.
4. ‘It’s all flexible hours and work-life balance’
The hours for a successful contractor are very flexible: they can be long, or they can be longer. They can start and end whenever you like, but when you start out as a contingent worker, just like running any business, you must put in hours of legwork into getting yourself up and running.
From there, you will work to match your intended earnings.
This means your life can easily suffer while you’re trying to ensure that you earn enough to sustain your lifestyle.
Getting the balancing act right – working enough, planning, and keeping your earnings consistent, while also ensuring your family remembers your name – is a difficult task. Finding help in the right places is key.
5.‘More money! Less work!’
We laugh at this one all the time. Which contractor hasn’t heard “But you work for yourself! Of course you can come to the party tonight / holiday in three days’ time / the South Pole for Christmas!”.
Contract work means that you must keep your wits about you to keep on top of multiple projects, put in extra hours, and make sure you’re performing at peak most of the time. That’s hard work.
Remember: delivery of high-quality work is the end-game – free time, for a contractor, is when the project is over.
The responsibilities of contracting can be more demanding than a salaried position. Working for a company full-time, you can delegate, rely on others, and focus on your specific job role.
However, support for contractors is readily available and is changing the contracting landscape from a risky one to something more stable.