Friday, January 9, 2009

Green Grass

I like to say that self-employment has ruined me for corporate work. After having been the mistress of my domain for lo, these many years (8?), I doubt my ability to shed the pajamas, don the pantyhose, and kowtow to upper management (and there is always going to be a management Upper Than Thou, no matter how high the monkey climbs on the tree).

Like much of what I say, though, it's a joke. Sometimes I consider the prospect of employment with longing, say, when I am paying for my own doctor visits or when I get my 401k statement in the mail, or even when I feel unbearably lonely clicking away on the keyboard by myself all day.

The benefits of working for a company extend beyond the medical, dental, vision, and retirement plans. Consorting with others--especially smart, likable, cooperative others--can be very pleasant. Sharing responsibilities can ease one's mind. Being able to finish one's day and walk away from the office may be preferable to having one's office at home and knowing that there is always some task calling out to one.

And this discussion would be incomplete without an acknowledgment of the current economic landscape. Lay-offs have been legion through the holidays; unemployment rates are higher than they have been in decades. If one is fortunate enough to be offered a job when so many others are losing theirs, doesn't it seem akin to ingratitude to turn down the offer? And doesn't the offer appear all the more appealing?

It's worth thinking about, in any case, and not just in a "is the grass greener over there?" kind of way. In fact, at least two of my fellow free-lancers are thinking about going back through that gate, and if they do, I must say that I will think about it even more.

Besides, in terms of thinking about one's work, I like adopting a flexible approach. Be self-employed for a while, see how that works for you. Sure, take that job that calls out to you because you heed the siren's call of benefits/more money/steady paychecks/collaboration/more variety. Try it on, see how it feels, and if it doesn't work, the pajamas aren't going anywhere.

CORRECTION: I said that unemployment rates were higher than they had been in decades, but that was inaccurate. The unemployment rate is actually higher than it has been in 16 years.

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