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Advice for a freelancer returning to the workforce

#1
Any advice about this situation would be gratefully received and valued so thank you in advance.

I am a self taught freelancer that has been freelancing for over 15 years. It has paid my mortgage, fed and clothed my family and up until recently I have had a passion and love for what I do. However, for the last 6 months I have been feeling a bit like I need a change, the passion for working alone and externally sort of evaporated, but I was not really sure what change or how I could achieve it. Obviously I plowed on with freelancing, but had not been entirely content with the jobs and tasks I was doing any more. My own coding experience is missing working in a team, and I have watched over the years the sort of work I do become more and more common place.

Following a meeting at a long term customers premises, where I gave a presentation to the directors and IT team (quite a brutal one actually all about the business mistakes I thought they had been making) which was surprisingly very well received, a surprising turn happened. I was expecting some kick back but it seems I had hit a nerve they knew was exposed and expressed some things no one else had said, but everyone was aware of. There was a discussion, then a break, and after the break the owner and directors offered me a job. The salary was certainly good enough, the role was excellent, I like the owner and respect him, the team is a good one, and much to my own surprise and after some thought, I accepted the offer the next day.

I am now concerned that my 'freelancer' mentality and my long term self-employed mind set might actually cause some problems as a new member of the team and as an employee. So does any one have any advice for me joining this new team. I am committed to this role and quite excited by the larger scale challenges that will be involved. I am particularly looking forward to learning from and working with some of the more experienced people on this team, but at the same time am quite nervous about working in the team but not as an outsider or freelancer that I normally would be. How can I make this transition as successfully as possible without letting whatever bad habits I might have developed as a freelancer cocking everything up for myself. As a freelancer I am quite used to speaking my mind and being quite upfront and open with criticism (as well as praise of course).

Does anyone have any advice for me returning to the workforce from this background. I am not sure if I am childishly worrying or just nervously excited by the prospect.

Thank you in advance for any input,

Paul.
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#2
I think this happens to anyone that is actually decent or good at dev. You work hard, learn on your own, spend countless hours in front of a computer, churn out a bunch of websites, and finally somebody notices your talent and hires you. I've been mostly working for the same guy for about 5 years now, and technically still a freelancer since I'm working from home. What would make me anxious or nervous to have a "real job" would be the other people, not me. I'm just not great at communicating with people.

So I don't really have any advice for you, but congratulations. Remember, since you're not working from home anymore, you actually do have to get dressed.
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#3
(10-05-2016, 10:58 PM)skunkbad Wrote: So I don't really have any advice for you, but congratulations. Remember, since you're not working from home anymore, you actually do have to get dressed.

Lol, yes that is one of those things I considered. No more wandering around half the day in my pyjamas No more afternoon naps or flopping into the office whenever I felt like it. No more thinking 'I've had enough, I'm off home'.

I am pretty sure the benefits are going to outweigh these things though and there are some good people I am going to be working with. Just nervous about the return to routine and if I am even capable of working successfully in a formal team any more. Looking forward to the challenge though.

Thanks for the positive comments, much appreciated.

Paul.
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#4
I've made that transition both directions.  The only advice I can offer is to speak with your team members, expressing your background and ask them for advice on integrating with their group.

I spent several years each with two employers (software and network dev) and then went freelance.  While freelance is my preference (freedom to starve at will), working with a team will (did) involve some clashes of style and personality.  Talking it out with the individuals solves most (not all) problems.  A willingness to compromise in favor of the employer might save your job, unless you can state your case diplomatically with valid reasoning...

The biggest hurdle, for me, was needing to spend the time to prepare a presentation to the team, explaining WHY it should be done one way rather than the other.  As a freelancer, that internal decision making is done on-the-fly and takes almost no time.

[edit] As PaulD Skunkbad says, clothing is no longer optional...
CI 3.1 Kubuntu 19.04 Apache 5.x  Mysql 5.x PHP 5.x PHP 7.x
Remember: Obfuscation is a bad thing.
Clarity is desirable over Brevity every time.
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#5
Ask them if they use SCRUM.
If not then suggest it.
Then, of course, study it also.

SCRUM is the solution.

And don't forget rules and regulation.
Ask for meetings also.
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#6
@twpmarkeing - thank you for those comments. Much appreciated. Love your phrase 'freedom to starve at will'!
I am actually worried about personality clashes and that sort of thing. Very used to plodding away by myself in my lovely office, with nothing but the radio or just silence around me. The new role is going to seem chaotic and loud I think.

@iridion2015 - No, SCRUM is not used, but I will have a read about it and thanks for the suggestion.
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#7
@PaulD

As a newcomer you have the eyes to see surprising things, this kind of ability would last for about a year. Express your mind freely, I think, it would be your moral duty to do that, only be delicate not to annoy people. Lately you will loose this fresh look at the things, it is normal. After three years you will get exhausted of your passion, this is normal too. Try to make good money during this time.

If some of your ideas and suggestions get rejected, don't get upset. If an idea of yours is really good, it will pass on second thought eventually.
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#8
Quote:Very used to plodding away by myself
I think this is the heart of the challenge. I spent a six month contract last summer managing a team of 15 people. Although still a freelancer and not an employee, I was part of the team. Until that point I had been working remotely on my own. Two things I found
1) It was slower to get things done in comparison to making a decision and getting on with it yourself. I found this frustrating but had to work at just letting it go / leaving work issues at work.
2) People interrupt all the time. Finding space *within working hours* to do your work is really important because getting work done is how you develop respect from your new colleagues IMO.
Good luck.
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#9
PaulD; The personality clashes will happen, expect it. I found that if I treated my fellow coders as I would a client, the clash can be viewed as a request for help or for a mod in my design. I either could support the change or offer good reason(s) for doing it my way.

If the "boss" disagreed, I could still state my points against the change, but make the change anyway. The boss is always right, even when the project suffers (in my opinion).

I do note that "the boss" will often fall back on the "standards" argument: "This is how it is done and you will stick to this standard." Job security suggested that you agree, bury your own opinion and do it the boss's way. This is how ulcers develop...

There are some people you will never convince. It can be difficult to recognize these people on first encounter, but time will reveal their basic personality style and you get to learn how to work around it. It's a drawback to being "just" an employee, rather than the owner.
CI 3.1 Kubuntu 19.04 Apache 5.x  Mysql 5.x PHP 5.x PHP 7.x
Remember: Obfuscation is a bad thing.
Clarity is desirable over Brevity every time.
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#10
Hei PaulID. First of all those seem to be great news Smile

Especially because you are so excited about that!

I think the biggest problem is dealing with opinions and respect decisions regardless if you think they are bad.

On a smaller scale you can think that Laravel is awesome but your boss says he wants CodeIgniter because it's simpler and the dev team will be much faster. Then you say you will help everyone and that people will be really fast really soon and it will be worth mid term and blabla and the decision is still against yours. Someone needs to make decisions and you should be able to expose your opinion but accept the decision, since some people are not very good in arguing many times they will lose because of weak social skills TonguePP but life goes on! Just forget it.

On a larger scale, sometimes decisions are taken at a higher level and it might be offensive to take it any further. A simple example is when a company has an agreement or has some people that are bought by Microsoft and you are forced to use their products and languages regardless of hurting the project (more hours of development and a worse final product).

Another important case (but i believe its not yours) is when your employer is related to state or something and you will basically be able to scratch your balls all day and still get paid. Some people love this kind of jobs but others feel really depressed : P

Good luck and have fun dude! Smile
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