Thursday, 6 May 2010




Flexible working. Freelance. They all sound so free and easy, don’t they.Trouble is they seem to end up with some mum’s working practically for free- if they can get the work at all. This is a conversation I had today about possible work in a job that’s slapbang in my skillset and for which I have massive experience. Then client is located in a place that is inconveniently located about ten miles out of London- in a place that no creative would ever dream of living:

Me: Can I do it from home?

Headhunter: No.

Me: What are the hours?

Headhunter: Nine till six.

Me: (computing madly- not having any idea of how I would actually make the journey at all - car? train? magic carpet?) Um, I can only do about ten till five as I have to be in central London for childcare at eight thirty in morning and six at night but I can work at home late into the night to make the time up.   

Headhunter: I SO understand- I’ve got a baby too, in fact I’ll have to go as I’m working from home and he’s tipping everything out of the cupboard- but I’ll sort that.

Headhunter- a few hours later- Ok, sorted that! They’ll allow you to do ten till five- if you cut your pay to make up for the time lost in the office.

Me: -resisting the urge to snap- so not sorted at all then- asks how low I’d have to sink. It’s a lot more than the hours lost - pro rata.

 I sink that low then put the phone down - feeling a bit low. Wonder how headhunters can work from home but creatives - who used to need quiet to think-have to tip up at the office. 

 Look at train times and costs and realise that ( with my knockdown rate, plus the added cost of overtime on childcare for the week which, even with the reduced hours will probably be necessary, plus the trainticket to the out of way place) I’d be working for roughly half the lowest that I’d decided I’d ever sink. I persuade myself it’s an investment in my future.

 Then I have a long conversation with myself about exactly how I can bus, walk, bicycle,  train and then walk from home to minder  and then to the job in under an hour - ha!  Then I have an upbeat conversation with the minder about working longer hours the next week. She is very generous about it. Persuade myself that any overtime I end up paying her would be an investment in my career.

I realise the bicycle needs total overhaul that will cost about fifty quid. Persuade myself it is an investment in my bicycle and my career.

 I was quite glad when the headhunter called up later and said the job had gone. No doubt to someone with a magic carpet or magic children who disappear in a puff of smoke during full advertising creative hours.

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