How to move back into an employed role.
This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from social media consultant and embroidery artist Claudette Anderson. She says:
“How do I navigate going from freelance into an employed role? Particularly when I’m going to be keeping my small business going on the side.
What can I do to make the transition easier and more manageable? How can I take the awesome parts of freelance life into an employed job? And how can I embrace the parts of an employed job that I’m not so fond of?”
• • • • •
Nutmeg offers customers a high-quality investment service at a reduced cost, whether they have £500 or £5 million to invest. Nutmeg now manages over £2bn on behalf of over 80,000 customers, making Nutmeg one of the UK’s fastest growing wealth managers and the fifth largest wealth manager in the UK by customer numbers (Source: PAM Asset Management, January 2019).
[Risk warning: Capital at risk. JISA rules apply]
Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.
Here’s what was said in this episode:
Comments on the previous episode:
[00:02:14] – Frankie
Hello, you’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast, where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life for kids in the mix. I’m Frankie and this is Steve.
[00:02:24] – Steve
Hello! Yes, each week we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community. Do our best to answer it, but of course we start each episode by looking back at last week’s episode. Last time around we were talking about…?
[00:02:34] – Frankie
Our partners working from home now, in the context of the pandemic and how to, like, cope.
[00:02:42] – Steve
Lyndsay got in touch. Lyndsay says,
“Me and my partner have been working from home, him full-time employed at a company who all work remotely, me freelance for over two years.”
Okay, good news is they haven’t killed each other, right? They’re falling into their little rhythm.
Do you want to hear their advice?
[00:02:58] – Frankie
[00:02:58] – Steve
“Headphone meetings while you’re out walking means it’s easier to talk. House rules around keeping workspaces tidy. Music on your headphones to drown out typing. Try and have lunches with other people. It helps to vent! And agree that if one of you needs to do a call, then the other has to go work in another room for a bit. But make sure there’s as much notice as possible.”
[00:03:21] – Frankie
I think not killing each other is a pretty strong indication of their relationship. Well done.
Oh, I’ve only done first names this week, by the way. Felt appropriate. Keep it semi anon.
“I hate my husband being at home. He’s taken over my office and he’s loud and farts, genuinely.
But things that are working for us: I’ve made it clear that when my headphones are in, I do not want to be disturbed. This includes the doorbell when his Amazon parcels arrive.”
[00:03:53] – Steve
His Amazon parcels?
[00:03:56] – Frankie
Yeah. Amazon parcel politics. Love it.
[00:03:59] – Steve
[00:03:59] – Frankie
“We put the radio on when we both have a bit of client free time, which actually makes a huge difference. He also interrupts me less when there’s music on. We’re both banned from having loud speaker conference calls. Headphones only. Apart from that, it’s very much like working in an actual office with that annoying colleague. Today we have had the heating conversation. I won. The radiator is now on.”
[00:04:21] – Steve
I don’t know why anybody wants to have a loud speaker conversation anyway.
[00:04:26] – Frankie
[00:04:27] – Steve
We are not on the bloody Apprentice.
[00:04:29] – Frankie
[00:04:29.930] – Steve
“My highlight of working from home with my husband remains finding a pair of his stinky socks on the desk in the newly set up office. He has clearly marked his territory. And I’m back working at the dining table again. Rage!”
[00:04:46] – Frankie
Marked his territory. Such a good choice of words!!
And EJ says,
“My main advice is to find some way to retain libido when you discover that your partner is that stands up to make calls, claps his hands while saying, ‘okay, guys’, in team meetings, guy. It’s a contraceptive.”
[00:05:05] – Steve
“I love the idea of blaming the imaginary colleague. We were put up in a flat opposite a very dodgy tower block due to a flood at our place. Two neighbours routinely screamed at each other across the balcony. We went to sleep to the sound of ‘F*ck you, Richard.’
Guess what our new colleague is called??”
Our answer to this week's question:
[00:06:18] – Frankie
This week’s question comes from Claudette Anderson. She is a social media consultant and also makes these amazing embroidered hoops. She does embroidery art. It’s really cool. You can find those at dropdownthread.com
[00:06:40] – Steve
Drop Down Thread. That is genius.
[00:06:42] – Frankie
It is a very cool name.
“How do I navigate going from freelance into an employed role, particularly when I’m going to be keeping my small business going on the side? What can I do to make the transition easier and more manageable? How can I take the awesome parts of freelance life into an employed job? And how can I embrace the parts of an employed job that I’m not so fond of? Thanks in advance team.”
[00:07:04] – Steve
That is an interesting one.
[00:07:05] – Frankie
It is, isn’t it? Although I feel like I’m going to be useless because I’ve never gone from being a freelancer to a job.
[00:07:11] – Steve
Yeah, that’s what I was going to say.
Sorry, there ends the podcast.
[00:07:15] – Frankie
[00:07:17] – Steve
Do we know if she is still, like, working from home? So many roles are now from home anyway, right?
[00:07:22] – Frankie
I believe she’s working remotely. I don’t know if that’s the plan forever and it’s like a few days a week. Like two or three days a week.
[00:07:29] – Steve
Well, that’s a good start then, isn’t it? Because if you’re able to be working remotely, then that’s very much like freelance life.
[00:07:37] – Frankie
And a hell of a lot easier to continue your business alongside it.
[00:07:41] – Steve
Yeah. Nobody’s judging you.
[00:07:42] – Frankie
Yeah. You’re not there like doing embroidery at your desk.
[00:07:46] – Steve
Maybe you need to start by writing down the things that you loved about your freelance life because then you can look at your new day and your new week and see how you can still keep those things alive.
[00:08:01] – Frankie
Yeah, so she’s in this unique position where she’s working remotely. On paper, it’s kind of easier to manage the two because her life day to day doesn’t change all that much. But the dynamic and the mental, psychological, difference is there in that it feels very different. Sat in your office feeling that you’re responsible to somebody else and that they’re like…
I did this weird freelance job a few years ago where we worked really intensely on a magazine for like two months of the year kind of thing. And basically my client was on Skype all day with me, so we could ask each other like quick questions and stuff. I don’t mean like we had a video call on all day. I just mean we were accessible to each other on the chat thing via Skype all day.
[00:08:49] – Steve
[00:08:49] – Frankie
But even just knowing that he could see the little green, like ‘Frankie is available’ thing on Skype made it feel like I was chained to my desk in a way that I would never have felt doing other jobs. So I imagine there’s going to be an element of that shift with Claudette where like it feels different even though it looks the same.
[00:09:19] – Steve
Yeah. Maybe you need to think of your new employers as another client because that’s kind of what they are, isn’t it?
[00:09:27] – Frankie
Yeah, I guess.
[00:09:28] – Steve
I once spoke to a guest for the Being Freelance podcast who basically thought of all of his career as a series of projects and sometimes he was self-employed, being freelance essentially, but sometimes he was working in-house, but maybe just working in-house for six months or whatever.
But yeah, to him it was all a thing moving him forward and it was just him doing his work. It still empowered him as a freelancer.
[00:09:55] – Frankie
Nice. I like that idea!
We talked about doing that thing where when you work for yourself, like… trying to get in the zone by going out for a walk first thing or something. So you’re going from like, “I am parent, washing machine, human feeding machine” role and then you go out for a five minute walk, go get a coffee, do whatever, then come back and you’re like, “right, I am all powerful businesswoman. See me roar”.
[00:10:22] – Steve
“How can I embrace the parts of an employed job that I’m not so fond of?”
I mean, I guess you have to simply remind yourself of all the perks. Everything has pros and cons. Right? So if there’s things you don’t enjoy, well, what about the fact that you’ve got a regular paycheck?
[00:10:38] – Frankie
Someone else deals with your national insurance!
[00:10:40] – Steve
Someone else is bringing you work rather than you having to go out and find it.
Instead of thinking about what I’m not fond of, just look for the positives instead. Like, it’s just the same as with freelance life. There’s stuff which sucks as well.
[00:10:55] – Frankie
[00:10:56] – Steve
You know, like if you do a ‘proper job’ in quotation marks and maybe you’re just working nine to five, well then all of that evening is yours to work on your freelance thing. Whereas when you’re just freelance, it’s like all of the time feels like it’s work time even if you’re looking after the kids.
And you can almost feel guilty working on your side hustle if you’ve got client work and all of that guilt kind should kind of disappear. So hopefully you’ll be more in control of your time and be able to put the energy into what you love doing with your hoop business.
[00:11:31] – Frankie
Also, I think a lot of freelancers who are contemplating going back to an employed job — and I definitely feel this — but a lot of the negatives I would associate with that are like… “I have to give up my autonomy. I just have to do what other people tell me to do and like I lose my independence”, which I think is true to some extent. Obviously you have to do what the brief of your job is to do.
But I do think… Because I haven’t been in an employed job since like my early twenties! And if I was to go back into one like that now, I think I would bring with me a whole wealth of experience and confidence that I just didn’t have when I was younger. And I think I’d be less afraid to bring more autonomy and to fight back on stuff and question stuff which I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing. Like, I think I would be more proactive and like, own my time more as an employee. I know what my skills are and my strengths are. Like, I think I’d just be less passive and more like proactive as an employee second time around, which I think would be good for me and good for my employer, if you got the right employer.
[00:12:56] – Steve
When you talk about navigating from freelance into an employed role whilst keeping your small business going on the side, you probably want to compartmentalise that so that you try just to work on your thing outside of your work hours. Do you see what I mean? Try not to be tempted to multitask and to juggle.
[00:13:19] – Frankie
Easier said than done though, isn’t it? Particularly if you’ve got a product based business like she does. For example, if she gets a message asking about a commission, she wants to respond to that quickly.
[00:13:29] – Steve
So maybe I’ll allow you to do that, Claudette. But I think for the most part, if you come up with an idea for your side business or something you want to do, keep that on a separate to-do-list. Write it down, get it out of your head so that you can focus on your actual job and do your job.
Often when it comes to freelance life — you’ve mentioned this before — you know, every moment of the day you’re thinking about things you could do with your business. Try and get those thoughts out of your head onto paper and put them to one side and then pick them up later on.
[00:13:59] – Frankie
[00:13:59] – Steve
Or pick them up on the days when you’re not working for that company so that you can also enjoy time to yourself and time with your family without worrying about both things.
[00:14:09] – Frankie
And if you need to do enquiries from potential customers and stuff, maybe do that at certain times of the day, like mid-morning, tea break, lunchtime, etc, rather than like always having notifications on your phone and feeling like you need to respond immediately. That’s dangerous territory, isn’t it?
[00:14:24] – Steve
Oh yeah, that’s a good point. Yeah. If you’re using the same computer, you might want to have one email open for your employed role, but keep that email separate from the thing where you’re dealing with enquiries about your business.
Yeah, try and split them out. Keep your new employer’s emails and all of that communication out of your other life. Because the fact is you will be picking up your devices to keep your other business going and you don’t want to be thinking about both things at once.
[00:14:54] – Frankie
Yeah, there are like two ways you could potentially, literally, do that as well.
One way is setting up multiple users on your machine. So when I first started being self-employed I had like a private login and a work login that very quickly died because the two, the two became very blurred overnight! But if I literally had two jobs like that, that might be a good way to manage it. It’s like I’m logging into my employee job now, here I am. And then switch to your other work by literally logging in with a different username, different password, and then you won’t get any notifications and you won’t see those other emails, etc.
And also, with your employee job… If it’s part-time, when you’re ‘not in the office’ in inverted commas, you’re going to have an out of office on of some kind that says “I work these days”. You could equally do that with your business that says, “I’m available at these times, out of those hours, I might be slow or I won’t get back to you”. Like, managing expectations of customers and clients and your employer on both sides. Use tech to your advantage to tell people what’s going on.
[00:15:53] – Steve
That is a great point.
[00:15:55] – Frankie
But equally, if she manages a lot of her customer inquiries for her embroidery business through Instagram, for example, I know you can set up like automated responses on DMs.
[00:16:05] – Steve
[00:16:06] – Frankie
So it could be just be like, “hello, thanks so much for getting in touch, I work these times, I’ll be back in touch ASAP” kind of thing. Or put it in your bio, I don’t know… Make it clear to people what to expect. They’re not going to get annoyed because they know the deal. Whereas if they just DM you, then the nature of social media means they’re expecting a response within about 30 fucking seconds. Which isn’t necessarily realistic if you’re in your employed job that day!
[00:16:31] – Steve
Also, when it comes to your freelance business — how you can automate things to make life easier for you? Be it having certain things that maybe people can download and buy from you. Can you set up workflows within email marketing type software so that things sort of take care of themselves?
[00:16:55] – Frankie
Yes, it could be stuff like, “thanks for your enquiry about a commission. Here’s my form to fill out about what you want your design to look like. Here’s a link to upload visual references” or-,
[00:17:06] – Steve
Oh yeah, yeah yeah yeah.
[00:17:08] – Frankie
If that all went out automatically, then by the time you actually talk to them and they pay the money, you’re basically good to go, kind of thing.
[00:17:16] – Steve
Yeah, streamline those. You’re going to be working in limited time, so why not make that time you do have work to it’s best? And the fact that some of these things can be happening while you’re getting paid by somebody else is brilliant.
[00:17:31] – Frankie