Why I value freedom at work…
And how I managed to find it
Taking the leap
I have enjoyed an incredibly diverse and exciting career so far. Before joining Hoxby I was working for a creative digital agency. I was a Producer there, managing projects, clients, creatives, developers, the directors. Prior to that I was a Brand Manager at a creative agency (Futureproof), and before that I worked in client services for Kantar Media.
On paper I had a dream career, but I quickly realised that the thing I was really craving in my career was freedom. Don’t get me wrong — I have enjoyed all the places I have worked so far, and I have made a lot of good friends along the way. But in general I felt like I compromised so much of what I wanted to do in my life outside of work. It’s a bit like being a prisoner to your career… The amount of holiday I could take was restricted (and I could only go at times it was convenient for the business), I had to be present during certain hours, I had to sit in a specific seat that was chosen for me, I had to work in the way I was told to… Seems really quite unnatural when you say it like that!
I also hate being told what to do, I like to do things in my own way. And once I had the confidence in my ability and capability, I felt confident enough to take the leap to become freelance/self employed.
What made the restrictions even more frustrating for me was the fact that my mum lives abroad (Meribel in the winter and Jersey in the Summer), which means it’s harder to spend as much time together as we’d like. Working flexibly means I can do my job whilst I am visiting her — no holiday required (unless I want to take a day off), and plenty of quality time together.
Not a morning person…
I’m one of those people who have to be in the right frame of mind to really get my head into the game, and that isn’t always between the hours of nine-to-five. Anyone who knows me knows I am really not a morning person. So is it not beneficial for everyone if I sleep for another hour and then start working? We’re much too defined by the hours we work at the moment as opposed to the quality of our work. The trick is that to let people work like that you need a lot of trust, trust that they won’t abuse the system, that they will still work just as hard.
Why creativity matters
“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” Edward de Bono
It’s hard enough to imagine being a creative and being stuck in the same old seat day after day after day, but even for people in my position (project management/operations) — creativity is important, really important! I found it quite stifling after a while, especially at my last job. I was sat on a mezzanine level, with nothing but a brick wall to stare at. There was no window to look out of, we couldn’t see anyone else in the office (or even hear them really) and it felt really isolating. Some people like that, but not me. I found myself constantly desk hopping, taking someone else’s spot in the main office where there was more stimulation, or moving into one of the meeting rooms. At least you could hear conversations, see people moving around — any sort of stimulation was better than nothing!
Now, I love sitting somewhere new each day (although I must admit I do tend to find myself in the same place a few times if it’s somewhere I like)… it’s much more inspiring.
The surprising thing…
I’ve been amazed by just how natural it feels. There hasn’t been a single moment since I moved to this way of working where I thought ‘Have I made the right decision?’, ‘I miss an office’, etc. And how well it works — the technology available these days is all tailored to virtual working, in fact there is so much choice it’s almost overwhelming.
Some words of advice for anyone looking for a taste of freedom
You need to be good at what you do, I’d say it’s harder to make it in the freelance world when you’re a junior (not impossible by any stretch) — but people look for reassurance in experience when there’s not building and mortar to back you up.
Be ready to give it all your all — it’s not ‘easy’, you still have to work hard and put in some serious graft.
Enjoy the freedom — travel, visit friends and family more (you can travel off peak!), genuinely try to work somewhere new as much as you can (don’t let your house become your four walled prison!). And take a packed lunch with you… it gets expensive buying Pret every day!
Ness Kent is a freelance marketing/brand/operations consultant (lots of hats!) and is currently Head of Delivery at The Hoxby Collective.
Originally published at hoxbycollective.com on June 1, 2016.