It's a bold statement, granted. And one which is certainly arguable. But I was chatting to a friend recently who maintained that freelancers definitely, definitely worked harder than permanent employees.
I'm in a slightly unusual position because I work both as a freelancer three days a week and as a permanent member of staff two days a week. So, not wanting to big myself up unnecessarily, I'm in a slightly better position than most people to offer an opinion.
But let's leave mine for now and iron out the arguments.
Freelancers, my friend submitted, work harder because they have to prove themselves on a regular basis, sometimes daily. We've all heard the phrase "you're only as good as your last piece of work" and there's a lot of truth in that. Do a bad job for a client and you're unlikely to be their first port of call again in the future. And you can kiss those word-of-mouth recommendations goodbye, too.
Conversely, do a great job and they'll have you on speed dial quicker than you can say "day rate," especially if there's a regular stream of work that needs covering. So why NOT work harder for that very reason?
Freelancers also have to work harder because they almost certainly won't know the company in question as well as a permanent staff member. Yes, of course they will have some excellent transferable skills, some of which may be better than those of a permanent employee. If they're copywriters, they may have a wealth of experience in writing web content, adverts, direct mailings or press releases. But in terms of insider knowledge and relevant company history or the minutiae of house style they may be in the dark or make an understandable faux pas. I once worked for a client which had a house ban on semicolons. As a result, the freelancer has to make sure that their work is even better to almost counteract these deficiencies.
Then there's what is classified as a day's work. Personally, I am scrupulously honest with my timekeeping. So if I'm working for a client at home and I'm interrupted by a phone call for 10-15 minutes from another client, then I make a note of that and make up the time at the end of the day. By contrast, I've worked with permanent employees who habitually turn up late, start the day by having a bowl of cereal, making a coffee, catching up on the weekend's events with their colleagues. It's a good half hour or 45 minutes before they do anything. And then there's the constant chatting, emailing, even booking holidays online.
I'm not judging them, you understand; if they're hitting their targets and doing all that, then who am I to take any sort of moral high ground? But you can bet a freelancer wouldn't act like that; they simply can't afford to. Not if they're working on site, anyway.
Now, I'm sure there are reasons why some people might feel that the reverse is true and that a permanent member of staff works harder than a freelancer. I'm by no means saying that my friend is unquestionably right. They may be constantly worried about job security, for one thing. Or their boss may be a bully and a clock-watcher. And, of course, it depends on the profession, but let's stick to the sort of jobs people here on Creativepool do.
Whether you're permanent or freelance, what do you think?
Ashley Morrison is a blogger, copywriter and editor.