Freedom and Financial stability have been viewed as diametrically opposite, where one needs to be traded off to achieve the other. The question that has been asked generation after generation is if there is a way to achieve both? The answer to this has been changed to “yes” by the disruptions caused by Industrialization 4.0 and by the relentless efforts of millennials (of course it is them again) to not adhere to the toxic corporate culture.
This sweet spot where you have the freedom and financial stability is called Permalancing or full-time freelancing. It is a type of self-employment where you secure clients who are recurring but work on a freelancing basis with them. The good thing about this setup is that you can work with more than one company at a time, you do not have to continuously keep looking for clients or gigs (the way you would have to as a freelancer) which assures a steady income flow and not from one source but multiple which is always a better option than putting all your eggs in one basket. Further, as you are working on a freelancing basis you decide how many hours you wish to give to each client, where you would be working from, etc giving you the much-needed freedom and work-life balance.
When permalancing was first introduced, people did not necessarily like the idea, because it borders on having to work full time without having any employee benefits like health insurance, or gratuity. So, just like no good thing comes without a cost, achieving this bliss point means foregoing all the benefits and security you get as a full-time employee.
For most people, it is a matter of preference, and as the trend suggests, millennials (who form the majority of the workforce) are willing to let go of the workplace benefits for something that is much more important to them i.e flexibility and potential infinite income sources. Further, the benefits given can be secured by individuals on their own by say taking medical insurance and having a savings account where you strictly deposit some money out of your earnings.
Permalancing seems like a perfect option for employees to get their ideal working model and choice to select their preferences when it comes to companies, types of projects, hours of work, location, etc, and employers get the same quality of work without having to spend on the workplace benefits. So overall it is a win-win. But there will always be cases where permalancers/ full-time freelancers will be exploited as there is no law that binds companies in this case and when that happens the whole idea of permalancing falls apart. Here are some ways by which permalancers can protect themselves from falling into any such trap:-
- Research on the permalancing opportunities in your field. Talk to full-time freelancers and their experience working with a particular client. This will help you understand if a certain company fits into your preferences. Further, it also gives you an idea if permalancing is a lucrative option for your field
- During the first round of conversation with a company make your expectations clear in terms of pay, the number of hours, expected type of projects, deliverables, etc. Do not assume anything to be common knowledge when it comes to freelance work.
- Have a full proof written agreement with the company, this protects you from potential exploitation and misunderstanding. Get the contract checked by an expert who deals in freelancing before signing it.
- Include the clause of being laid off without any real reason or due notice will have to be compensated. This protects you from companies who employ and lay off permalancers as per their whims and fancies and gives you enough time to secure another client.
- Ask companies if they will be providing any kind of employee benefits. If not, have your personal security net in place which covers health insurance, a rainy day fund, safe investments (preferably government bonds), etc.
- Have a transparent conversation with your direct reporting manager before signing an agreement to avoid any gaps in the future.
- Diversify your offerings, this will ensure that you bag more clients easily as well as have the option to work with different sets of clients and secure a reputation in the industry as a full-time freelancer, giving you higher negotiation power.