In the year after I left Microsoft, I spent time vacillating as to whether a freelance way of working or a traditional full-time role was my better option. As the work failed to come in during that first year, I veered towards the latter and got to the final two for a CTO role.

I didn’t get it. Looking back, that was a good thing. But I remember how the recruiter I was dealing with (one of the longer-in-the-tooth variety) talked dismissively about me taking the path of a “portfolio career”, a choice that would be one way for me.

I’m reminded of that as I enter into my third week back into the world of traditional employment. A path thought impossible to traverse by the narrow-minded recruiter from six years ago.

It strikes me that fluidity in work will be in all sorts of directions going forward. Gig working, full-time contracts, self-employment, reward by input, reward by output. Circumstances should dictate this stuff more than current fads or overriding policy. But for this kind of flexibility to take hold, it’s going to take a lot of adaptation in the processes through which we source and employ skills and experience.

But there are ancillary challenges too. For example, a few years ago, I was asked to do ten days work for an organisation where getting my identity verified by an external agency took nearly ten weeks. The cause was that they demanded an employment history of three years, no gaps acceptable. I’d worked with around a dozen clients to that point, and the “Thems the Rules” outsourced provider had no room for variation.

Since then, I’ve seen information security audits of suppliers that have determined their staff vetting must include three years of employment history. You can see how this self-sustaining industry can build up and take a “computer says no” attitude in the name of compliance.

The world of work is undoubtedly changing. Still, as an active participant in changing how I earn a living, it’s interesting how much of the world surrounding work continues to assume traditional employment.

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