Are free agents lazy?

Freelancers are lazy, right?
“They snooze in bed whilst the ‘real’ world is busy seizing the day, before finally dragging themselves to the nearest coffee shop to spend the day chatting on Twitter.” At least, that’s what an employed acquaintance who shall remain nameless – authoritatively told me last week.

While that might be the standard daily routine for the a few, it’s quite a generalisation and definitely not a fair or positive reflection of your average jobbing freelancer.

We wanted to test this common assumption, certain that we could prove it wrong, so we asked the KindredHQ community what time they begin work each day. Our survey revealed some interesting trends:

Office hours: 8.30-9.30
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the traditional time that most offices and organisations start work – between 8.30 and 9.30am – scored the second lowest in our survey. We might have predicted as much, as anyone who doesn’t work from home will probably face a fairly hideous commute at this peak time. Not only is that likely to be more stressful than steering clear of the rush hour, it also tends to be more expensive and not too great for the environment either.

Better for a snooze: 9.30-11
The most popular slot was 9.30–11.00am, coincidentally the time that I start work. For me, the benefits include rising with the sun rather than before it, squeezing in some exercise, responding to any urgent communications, having time for a substantial breakfast and blissfully avoiding the rush hour altogether. I’ve also noticed that the co-working spaces I visit tend to fill up during this period.

Early birds: before 8.30
Next were the early birds who start before 8.30am. Contrary to popular belief, many free agents rise early and get going before their co-workers. One factor here is of course children, but many childless freelancers prefer these hours too. Workers starting at this time tend to not only avoid the rush-hour crush but are also less likely to face interruptions from their colleagues. In a world where group-working is promoted so strongly, it’s interesting to find that lots of us prefer get to the office early to carve out time in which to work in peace. Many people, whether introverted or extraverted, understand the benefits of working alone – and in her recent TED talk, author and self-confessed introvert Susan Cain celebrates the virtues of quiet contemplation during work time

What’s this thing called ‘morning’?: after 11
Last but not least were the late risers, who start work after 11am. This group may appear lazy to many, but some of the most successful free agents find they can be more productive by aligning work times with their natural sleep and energy patterns. For example, successful writer and lifestyle designer Tim Ferriss will generally sleep in until 10am but often does his best work between 1 and 4am!

With traditional office hours proving the least popular, perhaps progressive companies and organisations should try rethinking their start times. In doing so, they could at a single stroke become more attractive to free agents, enjoy a less stressed-out workforce and even help solve some of the congestion and environmental problems inherent to the rush hour.

As free-workers, we should challenge the conventional wisdom of the traditional 9am start. Why should we struggle against our individual circadian rhythms and do battle with overly congested roads and public transport systems when we can be more productive by simply shifting our working hours to ones that suit us? It looks like many of us are already doing this.

 So perhaps we’re not lazy, we’re just smarter.

If you’d like to add your own vote to our ongoing survey you can do so here: 


Special thanks to:
Jane Crosby for her amazing editing skills and
Meredith Farmer for kind use of photo

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