Manali Desai The blurring lines swinging around freelance and work-from-home July 25, 2017

Shalini took out her laptop, turned on the wifi and connected it to the internet through her cellphone hotspot. Just three steps and she was ready to deliver her work! And that too while traveling in a train. Who’d have thought this was possible a few years back. Times have changed and for people like Shalini, it has now become possible to work from anywhere with just active internet and a compatible device to work on.

A lot of millennials are opting such jobs which provide with flexibility of time and place rather than a 9 to 6 desk job in a drab cubicle. The young generation of people like Shalini love having the freedom of space and mind where their workplace and work hours aren’t fixed. Also, there has been an increasing demand of creative professionals in the working industry in mostly all sectors, be it apparels or food and beverages.

Someone once asked Shalini why she chose to work like this and it brought on so many answers to her mind that she couldn’t state in one sentence; the first of all being that she didn’t want to restrict herself to one field. Then, of course, there were also those who thought that she worked only for a single field or a firm at a time. She was a freelancer, yes. And she worked from home too!

But how could she explain people the difference between the two as they were so intermingled!

The blurring lines around the work

Where work from home constricted only to working for one organization on a regular basis, as a freelancer she had the freedom to work for multiple firms in a single day. Essentially the work as a freelancer was project-wise. The deadline had to be met with in a similar way and most times if the client liked the work, they would ask for regular work if need be, but the work wasn’t on an everyday basis.

Take, for example, an architect who does freelance work. Once the designing of the house or office of the client is done, he wouldn’t ask for rebuilding or reconstructing right away. The work basically gets over at the end of the project. Whereas if this architect is working on a work-from-home kind of setting, he’d be doing it on behalf of a firm and once the project gets done he’d be put on another one right away.

Then there was the question of number of hours and work timings too on which Shalini was often questioned. She had to explain that she could work anytime and anywhere as a freelancer whereas in a work from home profile, she was expected to visit the office once in a while and had to be available on mail or on phone during the normal hours which was usually between 9 am to 6 pm.

Along with this, she also had to report to people and even assign task to others under her team. So the logic was simple, work from home was basically a regular job which allowed her the freedom to not have to come to office but do her regular duties on an everyday basis.

The blurring lines around the work

A younger cousin of Shalini, Aditya, who is an engineer by qualification, does an IT job and on the side, even takes on other jobs in his free time. This included developing websites and sometimes giving seminars on similar subjects. What would this be then?

Well, essentially this would be a typical example of people doing multiple jobs; one which is a full-time job and the others are freelance or part-time jobs. Shalini doesn’t fall in this category either. Yes, there was a point in her career she had done this too.

But currently, she only took up freelance where she had the freedom to do multiple jobs within the working hours which suited her. In a work from home profile, she could take up freelance assignments too but not within the time she had dedicated to the employer for whom she was working from home.

The big question though which most youngsters like Shalini get asked about was the pay structure. Was it fixed? Did it vary? Here again, there was a huge difference.

Essentially in a freelancing profile, the pay wasn’t fixed in a way the conventional salary goes. However, the pay was fixed per project or per assignment as per a mutually decided amount before taking on the work for any client.

In a work-from-home based profile, the pay structure is fixed like a regular job. Sometimes though, just because an employee has been given the freedom to work from home, some firms pay lower than that to a full-time job professional.

The similarities between work-from-home and freelance work are many and the lines are often blurred. But people like Shalini help us understand how both are different and how each has their own set of pros and cons.

A preserver of my thoughts and a nurturer of self-happiness, I am Manali, a believer in all's well that ends well. I cherish the act of writing and the process of thinking. Loner to some and warm to others, I swing between moods based on my hunger pangs. Traveler, reader,music lover and foodie are some adjectives which can be used to describe me.

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