It’s Monday morning, Gavin’s first day of working from home as a freelancer. Over the weekend, he put the finishing touches to his new office in the spare room of the house he shares with his wife Debbie, two dogs, Graham and Stuart and cat, Roy.
Debbie is getting ready to go to her job at the local school. Normally, Gavin would drop Debbie off on his way into the office, but commuting in the traditional sense doesn’t feature in his new lifestyle.
“Enjoy being a slave to The Man, Debs. Hope the traffic isn’t too bad.”
“And you enjoy your commute to the bedroom, Mr company director. You not getting ready?”
“Nah, I think I’ll lie in for a bit. Might watch a bit of Homes Under the Hammer. I’ll see how the day takes me. That’s how we do things as freelancers. Work when we want, where we want and how we want.”
Debbie leaves at 7:50 am. By 8:30 am, Gavin is showered and dressed - shirt, trousers, slippers, no tie. Smart casual. At 8:50 am, he takes his first steps into the white-walled, whiteboard surroundings of PRICS headquarters, ready to log on for 9:00 am.
“Ah, this is the life, Graham. The new way of working. You’ll see soon in a few years that everyone wants a piece of this freelance lifestyle. It’s the flexibility see. I don’t just mean the hours, it’s the work as well. I get to choose work that motivates and inspires me. If something comes in that doesn’t get the juices flowing, I get to say ‘thanks for your offer. I’m sorry, but this one’s just not for me.’ People dream of being able to say that, Graham. And I get to.”
After a productive morning of ordering 500 business cards with the new PRICS tagline ‘More Than Solutions’, recording a company answer machine message and using his new whiteboard to organise Football Manager tactics for Newcastle’s upcoming third-round League Cup tie against Morecambe, it’s 12:00 pm. Lunchtime.
Gavin has his usual egg sandwich, pork pie and plain Hula Hoops, with a Mr Kipling Bakewell Tart for dessert. All neatly packed into a Tupperware box by Debbie the night before.
“There’s no changing some people, boys. Your mam has been making me this same lunch for years. I mean, it’s fine for that office life, but I think a bit more spontaneity is needed as we progress on this freelance journey.
“I’m free to eat what I want, when I want and how I want. How about fish and chips tomorrow? I’ll work on the go.”
Gavin gives the crusts of the bread to Graham and Stuart, who are under strict instructions not to show Roy. It’s a quick lunch break. Half an hour. While aware of his newfound privilege of being able to take any length of lunch break he wants, Gavin doesn’t want to let this freedom kill his momentum. Not today, at least.
SUCCESS IS NEVER OWNED. IT’S RENTED AND THE RENT IS DUE EVERY DAY.
“You see this quote on Pinterest, Stuart. That’s me, that is. I could be downstairs right now watching Neighbours. Instead, I'm having lunch at my desk and hustling to make the dream work. I can do anything I want, but today I’m choosing to push through to make PRICS the go-to research insights and consulting solutions company.
“I’m going to share that quote on Instagram. Alan and the rest of em in the office will enjoy that one.”
Mid-afternoon and Gavin is flagging a little. Notorious for missing his turn in the office brew round, he hasn’t had a cup of tea since the one Debbie made for him at breakfast. But he’s pushing through and learning about some of the financial perks of self-employment.
“Listen to this, Graham. It says here on the government website that I can claim for office costs, including phone, postage, stationery, printing and printer ink. So that’ll mean I can claim for this pen holder and everything in it. Even the hole punch. That’s stationery, innit?
“It’s probably worth ordering another batch of business cards. I’ll go through those first 500 in no time. I can claim for marketing as well. That’ll be handy ‘cause I really want to push the brand to dynamic, forward-thinking public sector organisations that embrace tech. That traditional way of working is fine, but it’s not me. It’s not where I’m heading.”
Having stopped off at the supermarket for bolognese sauce, mince, peppers and two packs of sticky notes for Gavin, Debbie returns home from work at 4:55 pm. Gavin is hard at work, writing on the second of his two whiteboards: CHOOSE A JOB YOU LOVE AND YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TO WORK A DAY IN YOUR LIFE.