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  Survey Question

Thinking about your job arrangement [as an IP], do you consider it a preferred choice or would you rather have a more traditional job?
87% A preferred choice
11% Rather a more traditional job
2% Don't know



Commentary by
Lawrence San




Read about
The Aquent Index


In my previous commentary, I talked about the 11% of IPs who didn't seem happy with their IP-hood. (They were responding to the question in the yellow box at left.) Now let's talk about the 87% who preferred freedom. The follow-up question we asked them was simply...

Why do you say that?

This was a purposely open-ended question; respondents were free to give any answer they wanted. Their top reasons were...

  23% I enjoy my job/I like my arrangement
  16% I'm the boss /in control
  11% Flexibility/set my own hours
  6% Freedom/Can do as I please
  6% The field I work in: Lawyer/Carpentry/Piano teacher, etc.
  4% Get to stay home/I get more time to myself/to spend with my family
  4% My age/I'm semi-retired/in school
  3% I make more money
  2% Didn't like being part of the traditional workforce
  8% Others
  2% Don't know/no response

Unfortunately, the most common response, "I enjoy my job/I like my arrangement," is rather circular: all it says is "I like being an IP because I like being an IP."

The next-most-common response was interesting: 16% cited being their own boss, being in control. Apparently, that's more important to people than making more money or spending more time with their families.

It's tempting -- or fun, anyway -- to see 'being my own boss' as an expression of anti-boss sentiment. Even a small dose of bossitis (a common disease) can be overwhelming for many people. However, appealing as that explanation is, issues of control go a lot deeper than avoiding a jerkoff boss.

Let's think about control for a minute. Did you know that many people who get carsick as passengers report that they don't get carsick when they're driving? Similarly, I once met a small-plane pilot who said he was afraid to fly unless he was the pilot, even if he thought that the other person piloting the plane was objectively more qualified than he himself was. Why are we all so eager to stay in control? Or maybe the question is really: why are we all so afraid to lose control?

My answer -- this is a little weird, stay with me here -- is death. As you age, your body sags and decays because your genetic code loses control of your morphology. We're hard-wired to fear death, which is the ultimate loss of control. Vitamin pills, plastic surgery, religion… and self-employment… are all attempts to stay in charge of our own destiny.

Flexible work hours and general freedom also ranked high in the survey. What's the big deal about flexible work hours? Well, for me, that means going shopping when the supermarket isn't crowded, riding the subway at times when I'm almost certain to get a seat, and in general, doing everything when everybody else isn't doing it. That's... um... staying in charge of my own time. Ultimately, the flexibility/time thing is still about... control.


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