I've now been in the free-lance biz for almost three years, and there are pro's and con's about working full time vs. working free-lance (which lately has been more than an FTE - a good problem to have, but I was expecting a summertime lull).
What I Miss:
- Work-as-neighborhood - All the casual everyday chatter around the coffee pot or in the caf line. The 'how about those Red Sox?' chit chat. Being a concerned (or nosy) neighbor, asking how everyone's sick kid and leaky roof are doing. Passing the hat for baby showers.
- Sheet cakes - And speaking of baby showers...I'll admit it. Even when they came straight from the grocery store and have frosting made out of Crisco and sugar, I really loved getting a piece of those celebration cakes - especially when I got an end piece. With a rose on it.
- "Can this company be saved?" conversations - Typically held after hours in someone's office, where we tried to come up with nobody-asked-us ideas for improving product, sales, marketing, whatever. [Unfortunately, in most places I worked, the answer was, "Nope. It's a hopeless case."]
- Bitching about management - Hey, even when I was management, I still loved trying to figure out what the hell they/we were doing.
- Techies - Sure, I still work mostly in high tech, but I just don't get as much time with techies as I used to.
- Direct deposit - Nothing like knowing that the check will be in the bank every two weeks, and the cash will keep flowing. No invoicing. No polite inquiries about delinquent payments.
- Health & dental - What's there to say here? Even with employers "sharing" more and more of the costs, it's a wonderful bennie. Writing that check every month to BC/BS....oy. And dental? We figured out that it made little economic sense to get dental insurance, and the benefits were never all that great. Still....
What I Don't Miss:
- Fire-drills - Yes, customers sometimes want you to drop everything and get "it" done, but nothing compared to those absurd 'we must get this information to Henny Penny by 7 a.m. tomorrow or the sky will fall' episodes Half the time, it turned out to be a matter of "never mind."
- All hands meetings - Especially when there was only gloomy news to report, and senior management went through elaborate contortions to explain to us how day was really night, and up was really down, and bad was the new good. Not to mention dodging the rare tough question that came their way.
- Problem employees - I had some lulu's over the years, mostly self-inflicted, as I kept making the same hiring mistake over and over, wishfully thinking that someone else's problem child would flower and achieve under my deft and genius management.
- Overwrought emotional involvement - Remember how I said I liked those "can this company be saved?" conversations. Maybe I lied. I don't miss all those toss-and-turn nights agonizing about whether "we" were going to make it.
- Commuting - Rain, snow, sleet, hail, gloom of night,Hurricane Bob. Once it took me 4 hours to get to work after an ice storm. Another time, during a blizzard, it took me 6 hours to drive home. Even when I took the subway to work, commuting was a drag.
- Cleaning out the fridge - Somehow, in most places I worked, I was the schnook who ended up tossing out the 3 year old yogurt containers and suppurating take out containers full of ooze.
- Pink Slips - Picking and choosing which folks to add to the lay-off list is, hands down, the thing I miss the least about working full-time at a "real job."
I very much enjoyed my years (decades!) as a full-timer, and I miss some things about it, but mostly....You couldn't pay me enough to go back to full-time, one-company work.