You Don’t Have to Freelance From Home
So, you’ve started freelancing. You’ve spent hours, days, weeks and probably months researching your new career and are hopefully quite excited about getting started. You get up that first morning and it’s all wonderful. No-one is around to bother you, you can make a cup of tea whenever you fancy and you can arrange your work environment to look exactly as you’d like it.
But therein lies the rub. When your work environment is also your home environment, it can sometimes be hard to switch your mind from leisure mode to work mode. Even if you are successful at doing this (and if you are, I applaud you and offer you my utmost respect), sometimes we all need a change of scenery to clear out the cobwebs and get our creative juices flowing again.
When this happens to me, there are a few trusted places I can escape to that I know will be comfortable and have all the necessary resources to enable me to get motivated and to tackle the next task to hand.
Libraries are wonderful places and often have great facilities for people such as freelance workers. If you use your own laptop then it’s often possible to connect to their wi-fi network for free, otherwise you’ll be able to use one of their own computers for a very reasonable fee. Many libraries also offer other services such as scanning, colour printing, etc. They are calm, quiet places to work and our local library is probably my favourite option for a home away from home when I’m writing.
Coffee shops are also a good option, despite the fact that they usually aren’t quite as quiet as libraries. As long as you’re able to tune out a little bit of background noise, they can be wonderful for making you feel as though you’re still part of a working community - freelancing can be a lonely job. You will need to purchase a drink and/or some food in order to work in a coffee shop, but most places are now quite used to people using them as temporary ‘offices’ and will not put you under pressure to keep buying things. In fact, a lot of coffee shops now offer free (or quite cheap) wi-fi connection as well as providing some extremely comfortable sofas (if you get there early enough)!
Internet cafés consist of purpose-built banks of computers - with internet connection - that charge a fee for the time you spend there (usually broken down into blocks of five or ten minutes, with discounted rates if you buy a large period of time at the outset). They will often also have printing, scanning and photocopying facilities for customers’ use. Despite using the word café, they don’t necessarily offer food and drink, though many may now do. The atmosphere will be even more like that of an office as everyone is there to use the computers, unlike a coffee shop, where clearly some people have come to relax, chat and meet friends.
This definitely won’t always be an option, but if the weather is being kind and your work doesn’t require much more than a laptop, then taking a picnic blanket and working outside can be a lovely idea. Increasingly, there are even outside wi-fi hotspots for internet connection, or you could consider purchasing a mobile internet dongle to enable you to step outdoors. You can choose a location that suits you, with it being as public or private as you like - there’s no reason you couldn’t just sit in your own garden if you have one. Only you know how well you are able to manage distractions, so choose your site accordingly.
A Converted Shed / Summerhouse
Leading on from the above, if you’re lucky enough to have a garden that could house a shed or summerhouse, you could consider converting them to an outside office which you could then use for work. Admittedly, your office would only be a few steps from your back door, but there would be no charge for using it and you’d have regular access to your own food and drink as well. You would also be able to design your work environment according to your own preferences, which should increase your comfort levels.
Visit a Friend or Family Member
Another possibility for freelance working outside your own home is to visit a different home - perhaps that of a friend or family member? Obviously they would have to be in agreement, but you might well be able to find someone who has a spare room (or even a people-free house) that you could use during the day. You’d have to make sure they had all the facilities you would need and it might be polite to offer to contribute towards the cost of their internet charges, printing inks, etc, if you are using these. It’s probably wise to take along your own food and drinks, as your relationship could sour pretty quickly if they keep finding crumbs where their favourite biscuits should be! However, most people close to you are likely to be more than happy to help you out if they can so it’s definitely work asking.
Hiring an Office / Desk in a Communal Business Centre or Business Park
The suitability of this option will depend entirely on the nature of your freelance work. If you are able to plan for consistent use of the space, then it is possible to find local office complexes or business parks that will hire out space for freelancers or small businesses to use on a regular basis. Obviously it’s not a decision you can make spontaneously, so you would need to think ahead and decide to rent for a Monday and Tuesday each week, for example. However, even if your work is creative and not conducive to excessive structure, you could use a day a week to deal with administration, invoicing, etc, and this could productively be done from a rented desk.
Only you can decide whether any of the above options would work for you. However, as the saying goes, a change is as good as a rest, so it’s possible that working outside your home occasionally will increase your motivation and your productivity.