A big benefit of freelancing is the freedom to work wherever you want, whenever you want. No more 9-5, stuck in an office, only seeing the sunshine on weekends. But where you do want to work needs a little consideration to keep you happy, productive and making the most of your career. Expect a little trial and error to find your perfect fit, but there are some key things you can look out for on the way.
Working from home
The cheapest and most liberating of all the options. Living the dream. There are no additional costs on top of your usual monthly bills, which can be handy when starting out. You can work from your bed, from the bath, wherever the hell you like. No commute needed, which means extra time to spend on your work (or yourself! Bliss!). And working from home means you can be as flexible with your time as you like. Work can fit around kids and school, social life, whatever is important in your work/life balance.
As idyllic as it sounds, it does come with its downsides. Where are you going to work, a designated office space or the kitchen table? Will you have time where you won’t be disturbed to get quality work done, or are you going to be fighting the chaos? Or on the opposite side of the scale, are you someone who lives for the office banter, who will be climbing the walls when faced with being on your own most of the time? The temptation to get other stuff done can be pretty powerful, especially when inspiration has deserted you and your hitting that brick wall. Spending 10 minutes watching TV can soon turn into a Netflix binge session. Even laundry can spiral out of control into a full spring clean when you aren’t in a productive mood. Working from home is very doable, but make sure if you are a procrastinator or easily distracted you will need to go into this with your eyes open.
Once you start making money, serious freelancers could find spending some on an office can be a good investment. Maybe you have just left office life and going back is your idea of hell, but you are working to your own rules, so relax.
An office would give you your own designated space, so you can work however you need to, to get the job done. Kick off your shoes, stick your inspiration all over the walls, or keep it your tidy space. Whatever you need to feel comfortable and productive. An office is also mentally a good way to get into the right frame of mind. Somewhere to concentrate on just the work without other distractions. And if you aren’t having a productive day, then making yourself sit at your desk with nothing to do can help to focus you and keep you on task. It’s also ideal if your work involves meeting with clients.
Shop around for the kind of office you need. Some are stand alone units, but others are serviced and this means you don’t have to worry with separate bills for utilities and there is lots of flexibility in office size, and meeting spaces available to you. Some are run by local councils, and can offer additional guidance on areas of your business, or networking events for you to find new opportunities. The big issue with the office route is the cost. You need to have a steady income or a reserve of cash to pay for it, which when starting out can be tricky. Also check the paperwork carefully - be aware of ‘hidden’ costs such as leavers fees. And make sure it is easy to get to, if escaping the commute is your reason for freelancing. Make sure you check when the office is open. Some are only open during normal office hours, and if flexibility is one reason for going it alone then you need to look for something that suits - many offer 24hr access.
The most important thing to do is to be honest with yourself. Sometimes our ideal isn’t what we would expect it to be, but there are ways to make all of these environments work for you.
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