Freelancers: is it time to free your team spirit?

Sue Brackenridge | 23 July 2021

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Sue Brackenridge worked as a freelancer for a decade before returning to Fishawack Health and progressing to Scientific Services Training Director. Here, she weighs up the pros and cons of freelancer life and shares her advice for those considering going in-house.

Freelancing is rewarding but also challenging. That elusive good work-life balance seems to be in your grasp, freed from the chains of permanent employment. But is it really? And what are you giving up? I worked for Fishawack Health for about 8 years before being tempted by the fruit of freelancing and greener grass. After 10 years out on my own, I missed the intellectual stimulation, camaraderie, and security that working for an agency provides, and decided to come back.

Having been a freelancer and an employee, I know the good and bad points of both. Be under no illusions: coming back in-house is hard work, but it is fun and rewarding and gives you the chance to move your career forward. It is also a two-way process. As a freelancer, you bring expertise and experience too. Those years spent working with different clients and accounts have benefited you with diverse skills, which our employees can benefit from, and are important for helping us grow and innovate as a company.

So, let’s look at the pros and cons of coming back in-house.


Yes, I know you will say that freelancing is more flexible than being in-house. But let’s stop for a moment. You can set your hours as a freelancer, but what if you don’t have work on a Tuesday, but then you have to work on a Saturday night to meet an urgent deadline? Or can you really afford to turn work down on your day off? Will the company ask you to work for them again if you do?

Another point is that as an employee, you lose the flexibility of taking holidays whenever you want, including taking long holidays for childcare. But can you afford to take all those holidays if you haven’t had much work over the past few months? At least your holidays are paid in-house.

Flexibility comes at a price, and it’s freedom. But as a freelancer, your freedom also comes at a price—security. And it’s not true that working in-house is inflexible. People at Fishawack Health work all sorts of days and hours to fit in with their lifestyles, including school hours. You are also free to shift your hours around to make that important event. You may never need to miss a school concert or sports day. We offer flexible full-time and part-time working opportunities. You can find out how we support working parents here.

What if I have a long commute? That’s not a problem either, as we offer fully remote opportunities across the UK and US (or a hybrid office approach should you wish).

Innovative and creative projects

Quite often the projects given to freelancers are not the most interesting in the world. And then you fire off your completed masterpiece into a black hole, never to be seen again! It is much more rewarding to see your project come to life, from development to completion, which is often the case in-house.

We offer flexibility and the opportunity to work on your favorite types of projects across a broad range of therapy areas, including oncology, rare diseases, respiratory, vaccines, immunology, dermatology, ophthalmology, virology, and endocrinology.


Freelancing can be a lonely business. At Fishawack Health you will have an extensive support network, including your team, mentors, and line managers. Supporting the well-being of our employees is one of our top priorities, and we have several Wellness Initiatives in place and a strong focus on mental health support. Take a look at this article about the Coronacoaster we’ve all been on for more information.

Helping to train

You may have many years of medical communications under your belt. Coming in-house will give you the opportunity to share all your hard-earned knowledge and expertise. There is nothing better than helping a new writer develop from someone whose writing is covered in red ink (or the digital equivalent!) to one who produces high-quality content, is happy and confident in their work, and is ready to take the next step.

A stable work pattern

We’ve mentioned the flexibility that can come from going freelance, but the flip side is having a stable work pattern. There is something to be said for knowing that you will always have work and don’t have to worry about where the next project is coming from. You can plan ahead with confidence.

Working as part of a team

Here’s a cliché for you: teamwork makes the dream work! You will get the chance to work with teams of amazing, talented, creative people. Someone will be there to bounce ideas off and help solve problems (and you will never again have to fix an IT problem yourself!).

A good benefits package

We offer a wide range of benefits, including a competitive starting salary and a discretionary bonus scheme. You won’t get extra benefits as a freelancer – unless you are prepared to pay for them. Don’t forget the social aspect of working for Fishawack Health. Depending on the office location, you will have get-togethers throughout the year, and parties to celebrate summer and end-of-year holidays to look forward to. F is for Fun as well as Fishawack!

Career development

You may be very experienced, but it is difficult to enhance your career as a freelancer. Through our FUEL50 program, you will be able to track your career goals and development and choose a career path to suit you. As one of our ex-freelancers put it: “I work for a business that puts its people first and through both organizational structure and ethos allows individuals to identify their strengths, and through a flexible attitude provides opportunities for talent to shine. Individuals aren’t forced into job-description-shaped holes but can specialize in what they do well.”

We provide bespoke training, and you have the potential to learn new skills and evolve into a different role—if that’s the way you want to go. For example, we run training programs for new and advanced medical writers, and strategy and pitching programs for more senior people. Cross-company Lunch and Learns also allow you to hear from our experts across many different disciplines.

Keeping up to date

Linked to career development is staying up to date. We work on projects at the cutting edge of healthcare communications, so there is little chance of you falling behind on the latest developments in the field.

So, which is it? Freelancing or coming back in-house? It is really a question of balance and what is right for you. By reading this article, I hope the balance has tipped slightly toward coming to work with us. If it has, then visit our Careers page to find out more about life at Fishawack Health and our career opportunities.

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