The Nine to Five: Is it Worth it?
The year on year growth of remote work and freelancing is on the high. A few years ago saying that you're a freelancer was equivalent to not having a steady income, loneliness, and unavailability to work in a team. Currently, a big change is happening, and even the most conservative companies go for remote teams, startups are forming with founders living across the globe from each other.
is on the rise. Everyone is going for their next big thing. People are leaving their day jobs with statements like "finally free", "no more 9-5", "no more working for other people", "I was so burnt out" and so on, which paints the steady day job as some kind of evil slave keeper that is killing dreams, time and motivation. And while people can have different experiences in their workplace and each of the stories can be drastically different, and there are definitely times having an experience of 9 - 5 jobs is actually a good thing.
Here are somethings that in my opinion are the good aspects of 9-5 jobs, and how they can beneficially impact your work ethic.
I feel like this point is the one where I lose you, but 9 - 5 jobs help to create a specific routine. On this kind of job, you have to be somewhere at a specific time, meet deadlines, complete small tasks that are an input for another colleague's work, attend meetings, answer calls, approve things, etc. These small routine-like tasks can root good planning, process management, efficiency, business communication, and presentation skills. Yes, if you're not a morning person it can be a real boomer to be somewhere at 9 am (which I'll open a small secret if you're doing freelancing is also not going to happen). However, is it enough of a motivation to leave the current paying job? I don't know.
Takeaway for a remote career: Having a well-structured work process is a great foundation that can help kickstart a future career, being familiar with routines means you can create them in a more efficient way, and even if you leave your current job for a remote work it will decrease the initial shock of building new foundation blocks to set up your new lifestyle.
Boundaries aka work-life balance
This is the part where I struggled the most, and I feel that it's the main reason the 9-5 is scrutinized, and to some extent, I will agree. What are our boundaries? We don't stay late? We won't come to work on weekends? What do you do when your boss is asking you to stay late? Do you feel like a traitor when you leave the office at 5 pm sharp? Should I answer work related emails during holidays or vacation? These are questions no one asks themselves when they start working in the office. It's fresh it's new and you want to blend in and show your best, and yes that kind of mindset is awesome for anyone. However, these questions will need answers one day, and your job as an employee will be to effectively communicate them to your upper management. Of course, there are a lot of companies that abuse the ignorance and hard work of their employees, exactly how there are a lot of good companies that care about their health. There is no absolute evil or absolute good, the only thing you can do is communicate your point and stick to it.
Takeaway for a remote career: Having a set of boundaries is crucial not only for your work-life balance but also to create a safe environment where you can be on the height of your productivity without any sacrifices.
Ah, it's that time of the year again. You're talking about KPIs, company-wide goals, your role in the team, etc. It is exciting. You get a raise, or promotion (maybe?), or there's nothing and you just hear a long speech about how good are you, but still not good enough to get the X Y Z. This process is different for each company, depending on how big it is, how open it is about its goals, how well it communicates its mission to its employees. The simple truth is that performance reviews can never be objective, and it's only because people have different goals and different definitions of "fairness". It's important to focus on your goals and be open-minded about this process and be upfront about what you want. There's no magic device that can tell your boss or your management that you want a raise, or you want a separate office or anything else. And expect that they will know something if you don't tell them is something from fantasy fiction. If you're going through this process waiting for some kind of magic appreciation (which also can happen, I guess, but never happened to me :) ), then you'll end up disappointed.
Takeaway for a remote career: Know your goals, priorities, and expectations, there's no way a person, boss or customer can guess what you want from your career if you personally don't know it. Set a specific time every 2 - 3 months to reconsider your priorities, career goals, money goals and communicate them to others.
I like to say that I didn't really have friends before entering a job, and as sad as it sounds it's the truth. Your team can become the place where you find lifelong friends, or learn to communicate with people that are very different from you. Team effort and collaboration helps separate working relationship from friendships and quickly understand what different people expect from your work. Having an understanding of tasks breakdown, what kind of output each task should have is a great way of setting your expectations, and knowing exactly what you want and what will you get.
Takeaway for a remote career: If you're planning to do everything on your own team experience shows what kind of tasks will you need to create, how much time approximately each one of them takes to do and what kind of people you can hire for future help.
I hope this helps to see that 9-5 is not evil, it's a good platform to kickstart anything you need, which can be your future venture or mindblowing career in big company.
Disclaimer: These are the things that I've learned during the 5 years of working a 9-5 job. I learned these lessons the hard way, and a lot of them come down to effective communication between you and your manager. However, if you feel discriminated, abused or bullied, there is no communication tool that will change the situation and the best thing is to leave.
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