One of the benefits of being a freelancer / remote worker / contractor is you get to work from anywhere. This has benefits on a short and longer term basis. The short term basis is what we are going to focus on a bit today, which is, day by day you can decide where you want to work.
The three main areas of work for laptop based remote workers are your home office, a co-working space or a cafe with fast wifi. There are other locations but I imagine that once you’ve tried them out (i.e. the beach) you will probably end up back at one of these three locations since that is what has happened with me over the last four years.
Working from home
Locations at home can be on your bed (I know the worst one for posture but sometimes I still just want to do emails in my bed all cosy), on the sofa (again not a great typing position but still sometimes happens, especially for writing or at a desk (which is the best choice).
Working from home can give you more flexibility because there is no commute, so it’s easy to get up in the morning, go for a run or do your exercise and then start work. I also quite like it because I can easily chunk my work in with other bits I need to do around the house.
So, if I need a 10 minute break I’ll put the washing on. It just fits more neatly into my lifestyle than going to a specific place to work. As a sensitive person, I can also get easily overwhelmed, so with too much information and input it becomes too much for me and drains my energy quickly. I find working from home allows me to recharge my energy and write uninterrupted in a nice calm, relaxed environment.
The downsides are it can get a bit lonely working from home all the time if you are single. I imagine with kids it becomes more distracting as well. Also, when working from home you are tempted in to typing on your bed or sofa as I’ve already mentioned which is not good for your health.
I have an issue with my left wrist and hand because of my typing position, and my hips play up now way more than they used to because I sit cross legged on my sofa typing which is very bad for my posture.
Life flexibility is high
Save on time commuting
Nice calm environment for creative work
Recharges batteries for sensitive people
Can become too lonely
If you don’t sit at a desk it is bad for posture
Working in a co-working space
A co-working space offers a different type of environment and connects you with other people growing their business.
There are lots of different spaces, some which are built for extroverts who like open plan and lots of buzz and atmosphere, some quieter hubs with 10 - 15 desks and a calmer atmosphere. There are creative hubs and then digital focused hubs or hubs just for developers.
The benefits of co-working is that your day can become a bit more interesting since you can have a collaborative working style. The small talk comes back, you can ask people what their weekend was like and vice versa.
This probably doesn’t sound like a benefit if you are working in a team environment right now and want to become a freelancer. But, believe me, after some years as a freelancer you’ll want the small talk back. Co-working spaces are also great places to find future colleagues, suppliers & even clients, though it’s best not to go in with that intention since those relationships take time to form.
Another upside is that you might find it easier to focus in a co-working space, they can help you to divide up your home and work life which sometimes is a good thing. Too much bleed between home and work life can mean that you don’t get balance in either.
I experienced this heavily when I first started freelancing, I found it incredibly hard to split the two apart without having a physical barrier. I find it easier now, and more fluid but it’s taken a long time to get there and I still don’t get it right.
The downsides of a co-working space are that you spend time commuting their. You have to pay for it so it’s an investment, and if you are a sensitive person then you might find the environments draining.
Sometimes I just don’t want to go into an office, I’m tired and I just want to do my work at home and go for a run or something. So for me, having a fixed, solid place for work every single day cancels out a lot of the reasons why I didn’t enjoy working in an office.
Small talk comes back
Future business relationship potential with co-workers
Easier to focus
Ergonomic desk setup
Learning from others
Helps with work life balance
Time spent commuting
Environment can become too tiring if you are sensitive
Working in a cafe
The final place we are going to talk about today is your local cafe. Lots of cafes are laptop friendly now and have fast wi-fi. This of course does depend where you live, if you are in a more rural location then it might not be as readily available.
If you don’t have any cafes close by with wi-fi set up then my suggestion is to create a hotspot on your phone and connect there, or do some offline work in the cafe and then do your online work at home or in a co-work space.
I find working in cafes a great source of balance if I am working from home quite a lot. I can go to a cafe for two or three hours and get some writing done and then I want to come home again and do some work there. The walk in between is a nice break and of course COFFEE!
There is a lovely simple pleasure to ordering a delicious coffee and then settling in to write for a few hours. Those moments tend to be when I am proudest and happiest freelancer.
The downside of cafes is there can be too much noise, it depends how busy they get and who comes in! Sometimes it can be difficult to concentrate 100% but then I kind of like that, it makes it a bit more interesting when there is stuff going on so you just have to get into the cafe, more of a chilled, vibe.
Short commute (does depend where you live!)
Choice of yummy coffee
Good ergonomic typing position
Can become too noisy
So, that’s my take on these three work environments. There are pros and cons to literally everything in life and no single place is going to be perfect. But what is great is getting the freedom and flexibility to decide where to want to work.
I started my freelancing business because I wanted to create a freedom based lifestyle, I wanted to be able to make decisions on a daily basis about how I want to live my own life and having the freedom to choose where I work makes me very happy.