Jack Barber / Website Design

The Invisible Boundaries of Self Employment

The other day I had an interesting exchange with someone regarding the nature of boundaries - particularly with respect to employment.

It got me thinking. I commented, within our discussion, that I love being self employed, because I am able to set my own boundaries and restrictions. I can work on what I want, when I want, and in the way I want.

But then I realised, actually, I can't and I don't.

My Desk - Speaker, Keyboard, Trackpad

Employees are subject to their managers. Managers see the big picture - they should know what's going on and what needs to be done. The employee does the work, within the boundaries which are set by their company - their manager.

Of course, we'd hope managers and employers in general provide a framework which allows employees to work flexibly. To work in ways which suit their nature and attributes. Unfortunately this isn't always the case. Sometimes boundaries are set which restrict the employee - preventing them from working in the most efficient manner, becuase the way they would want to do something is different from the way they 'should' be doing something.

Anyway, I digress...

"The self-employed set their own boundaries", I said, in our discussion. But now I'm not so sure.

So often at work I feel like I'm restricted by the demands of my clients. I have deadlines to meet, budgets to work within, styling constraints defined by previous design work (whether good or bad) and a whole host of other constraints.

I guess the difference is, the self employed can choose to work within these constraints - and they're in the position of being able to say 'yes' or 'no' - to accept the constraints or not.

I don't really know where this is going - but it's an interesting question. Are the self employed any more 'free' of the shackles of employement - or are we, instead, subject to the demands and requirements of as many clients as we work for? Perhaps we're more restricted, juggling multiple projects with multiple clients (managers) at any one time?

I'm a fairly optimistic guy - I like to look on the bright side. So I'm going to stick with my position: self-employment gives me flexibility to work how I like and one what I like (generally). There are boundaries, but I'm responsible for setting them - within reason.

Are you self employed? How do you feel about boundaries and constraints in your work?

Or are you employed - do you enjoy the rigidity of your circumstance, or perhaps you have all the flexibility you would want? Perhaps you'd feel lost without the boundaries of a business to work within.

Probably more questions than answers here - maybe that's a good thing.