I have been relatively quiet in online land of late and there have been a few reasons why – the biggest being I have been working two days per week in a temporary employment role. From the outside most will ask but why, you seem very busy with a number of clients (which you are right) but here’s a quick truth about small business life – cash flow is king. And even though I have full books of clients, I love supporting each and every one of them, however, the nature of how I work there are gaps in workload across some months where it is quiet and the billable hours I do are much lower. So in a quiet period, a few weeks back the opportunity to take on a temporary role close to home presented itself to me.
Prior to starting my business, I was working as a temp and little did I realise how much of the skills from doing so would bring into how I work in my own business. After almost 3 years in my business, this is the first time I’ve stepped back into the world of a traditional employee workplace and I have had a few moments over the past weeks of learnings that I thought I would share.
So here are 4 things that I’ve come to realise about working as a temp back in a traditional employment situation.
Structure is a blessing (and a curse)
There has been a part of me that has been craving the structure of being at the office at 8am (outside of my house), sitting in a cubicle at my own dedicated desk and knowing that when I sit at the desk I will have a flow of work that’s within consistent structured systems and processes handed to me to complete for the day. On the flip side of this is the structure is sometimes suffocating, some days I just craved to get creative in how I was completing my tasks but it isn’t possible when the processes in the workplace are incredibly regimented and not open for interpretation or creativity.
Bigger isn’t always better
Where I have been working has been a large government department, with a decent number of staff, where you think there would be plenty of resources, funding and opportunities for collaboration. I will give full credit – I am in awe of the nature of collaborative effort that is fostered within the department and across the teams within the brach – in fact, it really has been refreshing to see so much collaboration happening amongst such a large number of employees. However, it also is very apparent that with the large size of the organisation, that it is very slow moving in changing direction, implementing new systems and processes and despite the preconceived notion that they would have plenty of funding and resourcing in staff, it is simply not true – the workload (and the nature of the work) that is being done by this team of people is incredibly challenging and I can see where the resources just aren’t there.
Flexibility is a huge luxury
Having the structure has been great but there was a week when my little one was sick and wasn’t able to go to daycare for most of the week. Now, my temp employer was phenomenally accommodating and allowed me to switch days (thankfully) but boy oh boy did I realise how difficult (or potentially easier) it would be as a full-time employee to navigate the sick kids home from daycare juggle. I had well and truly forgotten how there is much less guilt (at least in my mind anyway) associated when I need to go collect my kids from daycare when they are sick when I am managing my own workload versus when I am sitting as an employee in a workplace. Also as I have decided to walk to my temp job the whole logistics of not having my car close to hand to just go and collect them – just all of the things you forget about!
In person social interaction is good for the soul (but not great for productivity)
Being in an office environment has most definitely refilled my social interaction tank (I talk to my clients all the time via Zoom and phone but it isn’t always the same). It is also a big reminder in how much we as humans feed off the energy of the people sitting in an office with us. The hum of chatter throughout the different pods of desks, the sounds of the office in general, the discussions going across the room – all great to be amongst. However on the flip side, I really did forget how much time in my days can be eaten up by the desk drop-bys on the way to the toilet/coffee/kitchen/printer, the oh can you just help me with xyz. I have always been a fairly structured worker and can handle disruptions pretty well but being back in the office environment shone a spotlight on how much more productive I am with my time working in my own space alone.
So what do these lessons mean?
Well for me (and hopefully for you), is to see the good in your small business and take stock of where you are in your business and how you are operating. Often I feel like I’m not big enough, not doing enough, wanting more (and sometimes wanting to throw in the towel and go back to being an employee).
But as this exercise has shown me, building my own business and working to my strengths in the way I work and the services I offer is a much more fulfilling scenario. I get to flex my creative muscles in many ways that traditional employment never afforded me the opportunity as an administrative support person. My business affords me flexibility and nimbleness in trying out new services, offerings, processes that working as an employee would never allow me to do (at least not quickly).
If you are wanting to step out of the employed person cycle and are looking to build your own business (or are newly starting your own business) – I have written an eBook that runs through the practical steps I took in starting my business that is available to purchase here.
Korryn Haines is an administration ninja with over 10 years of administrative experience in a wide range of industries. Based in Brisbane and founder of Encore Admin Consulting, she provides virtual assistant services and administration process consulting services to micro and small businesses. She loves a nice big pot of tea, smashing out a BodyPump class and spending time with her young children, husband and lovable Cocker Spaniel. Connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.