Breaking free: 5 ways freelancers take control of their lives

The freelance model is becoming increasingly popular among workers in the UK. Whether they are simply looking to make a few extra pounds or they have chosen to make freelancing their full-time business venture, it’s indisputable – the trend is on the rise.

It is estimated that self-employed workers across all sectors make up a considerable 15% of the entire UK workforce. Aside from the typical benefits of being your own boss and the classic list of drawbacks, Brigad has delved into the deeper subject of how working freelance is allowing millions of people to take control of their lives.

Freelancing puts you in charge of your business, your brand, and your life

We have looked at five inspiring benefits of working in your own way as a freelancer and taking back control over your life and career. So much more than just “being your own boss”, these tangible advantages are changing people’s lives across the country. No more compromises: breaking free from the traditional salaried employee model puts you in charge of your own destiny. Here are five ways in which freelancing can change your life.

1) Avoid workplace discrimination

Our recent article outlining the difficulties of being a woman in the hospitality industry shows that the struggle is still ongoing, although freelancing can prove to be an important way of changing mentalities and helping women claim their place at the heart of any business.

Indeed, as a freelancer, you have total freedom to pick and choose where you work, favouring the environments in which you feel the most respected and able to thrive. This, in turn, directly encourages employers to foster a healthier work environment in order to attract the best talent – like you!

What’s more, a recent study on freelancing carried out in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group found that, for women, balancing work and family obligations is easier than ever, thanks to the ability to freelance.

Elsewhere, while self-employed workers do not enjoy the same workers’ rights as traditional employees, they still fall under the protection of the Equality Act of 2010. These measures protect UK citizens from discrimination or unfair treatment based on any particular personal characteristic, including when you are trying to land your next big mission. As a service provider, hospitals, care homes, bars, and restaurants alike are not allowed to turn you down because of who you are.

2) Avoid internal politics

When people from different backgrounds are thrown together into one team at work, personality clashes are inevitable, but luckily you can choose to work differently.

Workplace tensions damage team cohesion and impact workers’ personal lives, as they tend to take stress and frustration home with them. Choosing to work as a freelancer and take a step back from workplace backstabbing, undermining, and gossiping can therefore truly improve your life.

At some point, most people will personally experience or witness the detrimental effects of workplace politics. So much so that 33% of participants in an Adecco study cited internal politics as a source of unhappiness at work, even causing them to call in sick.

As a freelancer, however, the stakes and implications of your involvement with a company are very different to salaried employees, whose gripes and frustrations build up over several years. You can draw on the wealth of experience that you have built up and put things in perspective in order to distinguish between important issues and more trivial ones.

On the other hand, in the best freelance missions, you can develop a sense of belonging to a team, and, if you enjoy working somewhere, you may want to participate in improving the company’s practices. Your position as an expert external service provider means you are perfectly placed to be part of that change. After all, by opting to invest in working relationships and the quality of your communication instead of petty disputes, rivalry, and hearsay, there is no limit to your professional achievements.

3) Work in different ways to gain new skills

Traditional employment can stifle individual potential and restrict opportunities for adequate skill development.

Experts say that companies tend to structure work in a way that limits workers’ use of skills. Research goes further and suggests that employers in 2022 invest less in their workforce than they did 20 years ago.

Luckily, things are very different when you are your own boss. Freelancers can benefit from financial relief when they use their own initiative to undertake training that improves on existing skills, and sometimes even training on soft skills, such as stress management.

Private and public training bodies across the UK offer NVQs to help you hone your expertise in health and social care and in hospitality. Why not work your way up the levels to become a true industry expert? With each new qualification, you can instantly increase your daily rate to match your new level of skill. What’s more, training helps you garner respect and recognition among your peers, making you stand out from the crowd when arriving at your new mission.

Of course, formal training programmes are not for everyone. Working hard and gaining varied, meaningful job experience is also an excellent way to develop new skills. Employers typically frown upon regular job changes, but when looking for a freelancer, clients perceive this variety of missions as a wealth of precious professional experience.

Working in an array of settings and interacting with people from all walks of life is a great way to refine sought-after soft skills such as open-mindedness and sensitivity to people’s needs.

4) Constantly moving forward

Every mission you carry out allows you to gain a valuable understanding of how companies in your sector operate, helping you remain at the cutting edge of industry trends and developments. This unique insight is hugely valuable to potential freelance clients in hospitality or health and social care, as they battle to remain competitive and attract business. Clients are calling out for your fresh perspective on how to solve problems and improve processes.

Working as a freelancer gives you access to unequalled networking opportunities, too. When taking a break between two missions, Brigaders spend time attending professional wine tastings or medical industry trade fairs. Proactively seeking out networking opportunities is a unique way in which freelancers take control of their own career development. In fact, research into freelancer career success shows a “significant association” between networking behaviours … and employability-enhancing competencies”.

In other words, since you do not work within a typical company structure, as a freelancer, you can take things into your own hands and generate your own career-boosting resources.

Freelancing is the opposite of being bogged down with endless compulsory meetings, creativity-stifling paperwork, and overzealous management practices. On the contrary, if you ever feel held back by anything as a freelancer, you have the power to make change and progress.

5) Tailor-made career paths

By nature, freelancers are creative people. They enjoy taking risks, cooking up plans for the future, and experimenting with different ways of working. Freelancers have the luxury of choice, and the ability to vary the types of missions you try means there is huge potential for falling in love with an unexpected area of your industry.

Freelancers do not wait until they feel they are stagnating, they know that:

  • networking helps get your foot in the door at the right healthcare or hospitality establishments
  • trying out new things in your industry allows you to vary your experiences
  • investing in training helps you upskill and stay up to date with industry trends.

So, no need to rely on anyone else – if you deploy a combination of these strategies, you have the power to take your career in any direction you like.

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