Article | 16 Jan 2015

To work from home or not?

Posted in Freelancer, Motivation & inspiration, Learning,

To work from home or not? This is an interesting dilemma for millions of freelancers. There are obvious attractions to working from home, especially in the early days of setting up, as costs are often an issue and, therefore, no existent overheads are ideal.

Aside from this, working from home means no costly commute, no endless coffee and time saved. Some freelancers find working from home more productive and less distracting; think about that noisy, open-plan office you have just left behind and compare it to the quiet sanctuary that is your home.

You probably also think that you will be happier at home, being able to work in your pyjamas and enjoying a proper work-life balance, that you could previously only dream of as you trudged to the office and worked your twelve hour day, making your boss or company richer.

However, after a while, what happens is, you realise that you get increasingly lonely working at home, you start to crave those ‘distractions’ of others. You come to the conclusion that some of those distractions were in fact valuable interactions.

You miss the knowledge sharing, the morale boost that comes with having someone to share things with, especially important when things are going less well. After all, we are all going to have crap days and it is nice to have a moan in the kitchen to a work pal who ‘gets it’.

And depending on the type of person you are, you may find your initial enthusiasm and motivation starts to drop, as you ease into a blurred work-life environment. There are often distractions in an office, but there are different ones at home, like partners, children, pets, Jeremy Kyle, Play station (maybe this just me), shops, washing to hang out, dinner to put on, ironing etc… OK, so we will have varying degrees of self-discipline, but you will get distracted.

Cabin fever sets in and that’s when it is time to get out of the house and seek people. Often people think that the solution is to head to a coffee shop. The challenge with working in a coffee shop is that they are the wrong sort of noisy – with that awful grinding sound coffee machines make, music, kids and gossiping mums. Then, typically, the Wi-Fi is poor – you feel guilty that you haven’t bought a coffee for at least an hour, there is still no chance of any meaningful conversation, and of course you will have to take your laptop to the toilet. When you come back your seat will be gone.

Until more recently, the next option was to rent a desk in a serviced office, which, for most freelancers, was a cost and commitment too far. Now there are more options; co- working spaces have sprung up all over world and are opening at a rapid rate as the rise globally in self-employment continues.

This new way of working offers so much – if you find the right space. It is flexible and thus, you can still enjoy all that is good about working from home, but it will also provide you with a community and worthwhile interaction with like-minded workers.

A further advantage of co-working spaces is that they often run workshops, events, and business networking groups. They can provide you with access to mastermind groups and mentoring. So, giving you a chance to grow your network beyond the co-working space regulars and get invaluable advice for you and your business.

At the end of the day businesses, especially solo-preneurs, are all better off working and collaborating with others than they are trying to ‘row their own boat’.

Human beings are designed to be social and to work together; not be on their own.

What is critical in co-working is the collaboration it brings. Your products and service will be greatly enhanced by working with others. You will increase your reach and customer base by sharing and working with others.

So the answer to the question ‘to work from home or not?’ is not to home work all day every day, as you risk isolation and miss valuable opportunities to grow yourself and your business.