Being self-employed is incredibly liberating, but the reality of working full time as a home based freelancer comes with some challenges.
A genuine drawback of working at home is that at times it can feel a bit lonely. It is easy to find oneself feeling quite isolated and apart from the outside world. There is no office banter, nobody to share a problem with and nobody to discuss that Netflix box set you’ve become addicted to. Ok, there will be telephone conversations with clients and prospective customers and even sales people enthusing about water coolers or PET testing services. But you won’t have Suzi at the next desk telling you how much prosecco she drank at the weekend, or Adrian complaining about the cost of car insurance. Will you miss the irritating office bore? Actually, you just might. I know I did.
Working alone from home is not the same as working in an office with others and there will probably be times when you just need to get out, clear your head and have a conversation about something other than the services you offer and your invoicing terms. This is a common problem experienced by freelancers, artists, and authors the world over. The American author, Ernest Hemingway said; “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.” and the same is certainly true of home based freelancers.
One solution to the isolation felt by many freelancers working from home that is becoming increasingly popular is co-working in a shared space. Entrepreneurs, consultants, creatives, startup businesses and freelancers can find renting a desk for a day, week, or month at a time an ideal and cost-effective workplace. As a result, dedicated facilities have been set up in many towns and cities which allow people of all disciplines to work independently in a shared space. As you would expect, the essential utilities, such as heating, lighting, electricity, WIFI, and toilets are included and there will usually be a kitchen with facilities for making tea and coffee.
So how is co-working in a shared space so different from working in a local coffee shop? Well, there may or may not be oversized custard creams, but a good co-working set up can include meeting rooms and breakout areas, shared printers, photocopying and perhaps even more specialised equipment such as a laser cutting machine. There will also be opportunities for networking: Getting to know other varied and interesting people working in the same space can encourage the sharing of expertise and perhaps even lead to recommendations, collaborations and partnerships.
Prices will vary depending on the type of space you take and how long you take it for. Apart from the facilities themselves, I have seen various incentives; including free coffee and tea. Most outlets will give a free tour of the premises and some offer a free introductory session – which is the perfect opportunity to see if it could be the type of place you feel comfortable working in. One place in Liverpool I looked at offered a free introductory day in return for turning up with a cake!
Depending on your requirements, you could choose a regular membership or opt to pay as you go. Renting a desk for a month, a week, or just the odd morning or afternoon is equally encouraged in a coworking environment. If you are finding it difficult knuckling down and getting work done, or are frequently distracted working from home, you could find it the perfect solution.
- Renting a coworking space is cheaper than a traditional office.
- Coworking can combat the isolation of working alone from home.
- Working alongside like minded people can lead to opportunities.
- Some co-working organisations will even allow you to use the facility as a registered business address – for an additional fee of course.
- Just like with commuting to a regular job you will have to factor in the time and cost of traveling to the workplace.
- It costs money and probably won’t be as economical as working from home.
- There will be chatter and noise from other people which could be a distraction.
- Your screen will be visible to others which isn’t ideal If you’re working on something confidential or private.
- Working in your pyjamas is frowned upon. While you won’t be expected to conform to a particular dress code, working in your underpants probably won’t go down too well!
Coworking isn’t for everybody, but if you are finding working alone from home is getting you down then it could be worth taking a look at the facilities being offered in your area. With no long term commitments, coworking is a cost-effective way of working for many freelancers.
To find out more search for “coworking [YOURAREA]”.