I am not fit to be an employee

These are the words of Rodrigo, an ICT engineer in his early thirties. We are having lunch in Rio de Janeiro and we are talking about his work and career. Rodrigo started working as a freelancer recently, after being employed for several years.

He tells me that having a normal job is difficult for him because he likes to work on his own working times instead of the normal office hours.

“It would be hell for a manager trying to manage me”.

Rodrigo loves to work at night and sleep until noon. When he has a deadline, he prefers to work straight on for a couple of days, and then have a couple of days off and spend time at the beach (he lives just one street of Copacabana Beach so who could blame him!). His preferred working hours do not fit into most regular companies working schedules, and this has lead to problems with management in the past.

But since Rodrigo started working as a freelancer, it is different. The companies who hire him for his services don’t mind if he works in the middle of the night, or only start working a few days before the deadline.

As long as the quality of the work he delivers is good, and he meets the deadlines, they are satisfied customers instead of unhappy managers.

Rodrigo doesn’t need much managing now he is a freelancer, he seems perfectly able to deliver the required results on time. He is a driven professional who knows what he is doing. He works hard, without being managed, and when the project is finished he spends a few days at the beach, enjoying life.

Work hard, play hard

So since Rodrigo has become a freelancer, doing exactly the same work with the same results for the same organizations, there is no longer a problem with his working hours. Isn’t that a bit strange, I ask?

For Rodrigo, it makes perfect sense. In his experience, most companies don’t offer the flexibility he needs. By becoming a freelancer he found a way to do his job on his own terms.

But where does that leave the employers I wonder?

What does holding on to the idea that time needs to managed and that work should take place in certain time slots, bring them? Are they not losing their best employees? Employees who would have stayed in their company if only they had gotten a bit more flexibility to be able to work at their preferred working schedules?

I wonder about Rodrigo’s initial words. Is it true he is not fit to be an employee? Maybe he is not in the reality of day-to-day working places. But maybe the answer is that the average organization is not fit to be an employer for outstanding people like Rodrigo.