A lot has been written about going from full-time to freelance – what to expect, how to plan the move, what tools will help you and so on. But what about taking up a full-time job after having lived the freelance life? You may be trading in an unpredictable job for a steadier one that pays your rent and insurance premiums on time and promises to give you a certain income. So what is there to worry, you may wonder. Once you get back into an office atmosphere, you will realise that having been a freelancer for long, you will have to unlearn all the things you picked up to keep your business afloat and make changes to fit into the full-time rhythm. So here’s how you can get yourself ready to ensure that you transition smoothly from being a freelancer to a full-timer:
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Understand that productivity will take on a new meaning
When you are a freelancer, how much you work in a day decides how much you will be paid. So it is easy to fall into the habit of measuring your productivity in terms of the hours you take on a particular job or the amount of work you finish in a day. As a full-timer, these parameters will change. The emphasis may not be on the quantity of work or the number of hours taken to complete it. Also, along with your work, you may have other work commitments to finish, like making a team presentation or documenting a meeting and so on. You are also not just being evaluated on a specific kind of work but as a holistic employee of a team. So stop judging your productivity in your full-time job in terms of your freelancing.
Update your communication skills
As a freelancer, you are a single entity and you speak only for yourself. Communication is easy. A client will hire you for a job, explain it to you and you deliver it on deadline. It is just between the client and you. But in a company, there are multiple people involved in various departments who have a say in the work you do. Sometimes, a single mail may need to be addressed to at least five to six people, although essentially you may be communicating and reporting to just one person. Also, companies now use many project management software like Trello, Slack, Asana and so on, and it would help to brush up your skills on these.
As a freelancer, all that mattered was finishing maximum work in minimum time. Any socialising during work hours, meeting friends, heading out for coffee was all cutting into your productive hours and in turn your income. But when you take up a full-time job, it is not about just the work anymore. It is about being a part of a team to get the work done. You will have to be comfortable with and take time out to get to know your co-workers and spend time with them. The freelancer in you might think that this is just a waste of time and would not increase your productivity in any way, but this will make you a better co-worker, which is crucial for workplace success.
It is not unusual to feel different and sometimes dissatisfied with your full-time job at first. But understand and recall what the trade-offs are. Re-evaluate why you have made the change. Look at the positives – the sick leaves, the paid holidays, the insurance payments, the free coffee, the paycheck that arrives on time every month – and be sure that you have traded your high hourly wage and freedom to be your own boss for a good enough offer.
It can be a tough phase, but embrace the change, be open to picking up new skills and what’s more, go get a coffee and enjoy your break with your new co-workers.