5 Tips to Maintain Productivity as a Freelancer Working Mostly Alone

5 Tips to Maintain Productivity as a Freelancer Working Mostly Alone

At the present moment, it’s much more common just to stay at home and get your work done, especially if you are a freelancer and you have to rely only on yourself. However, it comes with a few complications, such as no actual will to be as productive as you would like to be. While working from home, you get distracted by too many things and you can lose interest in your work because it’s normal to rest while you are at home. Or, at least, it’s supposed to be. Read more

Advantages and disadvantages of different working environments

Advantages and disadvantages of different working environments

The Freelancing market makes up 35% of the global workforce, which works out to 1.1 billion workers. In Europe Freelancing has grown by 45% between 2014 and 2019. Since this career path entails a lack of a traditional office, freelancers have a choice to make regarding their work environment. However, having more possibilities can complicate the decision-making, raising the question: What are the advantages and disadvantages of different working environments? We’re going to answer this question in this article, focusing on four of the most prominent working environments: home offices, cafes, executive suites and coworking spaces.

Home office:

Advantages:

  • Price: the most obvious advantage of working from home, it’s free. 
  • Convenience: set your own schedule and eliminate the commute entirely, you don’t even have to leave your bed.
  • Comfort: a comfy couch can be your desk and pajama pants are completely appropriate office attire

Disadvantages:

  • Work-life balance; a lack of clear borders and deadlines can make it difficult to focus. The transition from relaxing with a TV show to starting a project is rarely seamless. 
  • Distractions: kids, flatmates, pets, household chores… oh my
  • Loneliness: there’s no one to chat with by the coffee machine, no one to celebrate your small victories with. Working from home can be lonely, being lonely can be depressing, and being depressed makes it hard to do your best work.
  • Procrastination. Even if you don’t feel lonely, working alone removes many of the external social motivators and feedback that helps most people stay motivated and to stop you from watching just one more episode.
  • Stagnated learning and professional development. It’s hard to find a mentor, a collaborator, a teacher, or just an answer to a simple question such as where to print business cards in the neighborhood when you’re at home all day.

Cafe:

Advantages:

  • Work/life separation: just changing your place of work and getting out of the house will give you this separation.
  • A motivating social atmosphere: sometimes just the mere presence of other people working on their laptops can provide a break from loneliness and the motivation to stay focused
  • Refreshments: if you feel like rewarding yourself, cafes have no shortage of drinks and snacks.

Disadvantages:

  • Distractions: music, loud customers, and the constant grinding of coffee beans, all create an environment that can be hard to focus in.
  • Price: once you factor in the expensive drinks and food you end up buying, cafes can become a costly option. 
  • Reliability: Café WIFI connections are notoriously unreliable. Additionally, if the cafe is a popular working location, power outlets and even tables could be difficult to secure
  • Stagnated learning and professional development: similar to working from home, cafes can lack meaningful networking interactions and professional growth opportunities.

Executive Suites:

Advantages:

  • Work/life separation: private offices provide this change of location and separate ones work from their life
  • Convenience: your set-up will remain in your office, no need to commute with it
  • Professional environment: executive suites often provide many amenities and possess the infrastructure that facilitates one’s productivity (high-quality internet, good printers, mail receiving services, furniture, meeting rooms).
  • Privacy and confidentiality: you can meet your customers in a professional location without having to worry about prying eyes or ears. 

Disadvantages:

  • Price: While they remove the initial cost and time that comes with setting up your own home office or unfurnished private office, they are definitely the most expensive option on a month-by-month basis.
  • Location: executive suites are often located in the city centers or are part of the Central Business District.  

Coworking spaces:

Advantages:

  • Work/life separation: just like the three previous entries, coworking spaces offer their users a chance to separate their life from their work.
  • Professional infrastructure: coworking spaces provide professional work environments with resources like meeting rooms, printers, high-quality internet, and projectors. 
  • Location: coworking spaces are experiencing a surge in popularity, leading to more diverse locations like both city centers and residential areas.
  • Variety: the work atmosphere of coworking spaces varies widely and can cater to most preferences. Coworking spaces can have a relaxed café-like atmosphere to a more executive-suite-like environment.  
  • The community: Coworking provides a space where you can work alongside other like-minded people, without any office politics. They tend to organize networking events and facilitate communication among members to build a sense of community and connectedness in ways that you’ll rarely find in an executive suite or at a café.
  • Professional development opportunities: Coworking spaces offer opportunities for further learning and growth in one’s area of expertise. If you find yourself in a new country, the network of members can help you navigate the regional particularities of your profession.
  • Security and storage: Unlike cafés or most libraries, you can store your personal belongings in lockers in the space and also feel more secure when leaving your laptop at your desk, knowing that the other people in the space are your colleagues.
  • Flexibility: many coworking spaces offer a wide variety of memberships (1 day passes to multi-month commitments) making them suitable for visitors and longer-term city residents. Additionally, some of them may have 24/7 access adding work-time flexibility
  • Value for price: Coworking spaces allow their members shared use of office infrastructure at a fraction of the cost they would pay while purchasing their own. Furthermore, members save money on refreshments, since many coworking spaces provide hot drinks for free. 

Disadvantages:

  • Distractions and lack of privacy: while coworking spaces facilitate fruitful interactions being surrounded by people inevitably leads to a lack of privacy and distractions.
Home Office Cafe Executive Suite Coworking Space
Privacy ✅/❌
Affordability ✅/❌
Productive atmosphere
Sociability
Professional growth
Infrastructure
Flexibility ✅/❌

 

While every work environment we covered has its advantages and disadvantages, the good news is that unlike working from a corporate office, as a freelancer, you really don’t have to choose! You can mix it up, working from home, cafés, the library, or a nice coworking space depending on your mood or needs. If you still don’t know whether which environment is right for you, we encourage you to give a couple of spaces a try! Why not start with a coworking space? You can get a free day at Locus, no strings attached. Better still, try us out for a month and get a real sense as to whether Locus is right for you! First-time members get 1000 Kc off a Full-Time Membership for the first month. Happy working!

 

Coworking or Working in a Home Office

I have now experienced both working from home and working from a coworking space.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages. As my business changes from freelancing to bringing others on board to help, a home office is no longer suitable.

 
In an ideal world having both a home office and a desk in a coworking environment is the best option.  There are days when it would be great just to stay at home and relax more than I would in an office.  Very occasionally I miss having an office at home during the weekends. – I have ended up working weekends three or four times during the year, so it is not a huge drawback going to the office.

The Benefits of a Home Office

I always like the time saving when working from home.  Breakfast, shower, then work – rather than having to spend time going to an office.  I have sometimes found myself not leaving the house for two or three days, I am sure that is not great for my mental welfare.

Young Children and Home Office

My youngest is now nineteen months.  For the first two months, it was great working from home – though I did a lot less work than normal.  To be there to help was good for everyone.

Not Being Around Other People

I can find other people trying.  It is often much easier to separate myself and get on with work.  I have worked in places where co-workers would be highly negative, be very loud, interrupt with a bloody cat video that you really have to watch because it is such a laugh – there are times when people can drive me mad.
 
However, while working from home I found that a day or two could pass without having a conversation with anyone except my other half in the evening.  Sometimes the isolation was so much that I would walk to the shop just to get out of the house.  So my high points on personal interaction was a brief conversation with a shop assistant.  Not great.

Quiet

At times I need complete quiet around me for some tasks that require deep concentration or while creating videos.  It is impossible in an open office to have good sound quality on videos while others are talking nearby.
 
Thankfully the coworking space I inhabit has a meeting room.

High Self Discipline

During the last ten years, I have worked from home about half of the time.  This has created great self-discipline.  No matter what is going on around me I can sit down and get on with the work at hand.

The Benefits of Coworking

I work now from Locus in Prague.  For my clients, it would make no difference what city I was in.  I have met a few coworkers that use this flexibility to live in and see other cities in Europe.

Professional Environment

Only once while working from home was my office not a spare bedroom. Even then that office turned into a bit of a store room. Due to remotely working with clients I use video and screen share.
I find it embarrassing to have a bed or storage boxes in the background while having calls.  I know many do not like this – but image is hugely important in business, (and in life).  First impression matter.
 
It does not matter if others are in the background having calls or talking while I am on a call – this is what I expect in any office.

Office Address

Like most other around me, I find most of my business via my website.  I have seen competitors use their home address on their website.  It does not look professional; at least a virtual membership in a coworking space looks after this aspect.
 
Additionally, most coworking spaces are in the centre of cities.  This makes it easier to meet with clients.
 
Google local is likely the most important part of SEO for many smaller local businesses. It is much better to turn up in these searches in the middle of a city with higher search volume than in some small village or town.

Everything is Organised

The internet connection is fast and I never have to touch it.  The coffee machine works and I never have to clean it.  The trash is emptied and I never have to think about it.  You get the picture.
A large amount of trivial items that have to be organised in your own office are there and working.  This lets me just get on with work, instead of making lists of things that need to be done that steal away my time.

Being Around Other People

I run a few websites and an SEO company.  Ideas come more often when interacting with others.  I get information from people about tools for writing, publishing, project management, the list is endless.  I understand that I can look up this information online.  Running websites has imbued me with a lack of trust in most information online – everyone has an agenda – as one of my philosophy lecturers who was also a priest told me, as I was arguing about his agenda.
 
We started a mastermind group that includes six members.  We meet every two weeks, talk about problems, set goals, and are held accountable for these.  This has improved my work tremendously forcing me to regularly review goals and stick with them.

Separation of Work and Home

I have been out of my home office and back in coworking for the last three months. This has been the biggest advantage – when I am at home I am not thinking about work and at work I am not thinking of home.
 
While working at home, sometime during breakfast my head would move into work and I was less present for my family.  Lunch could be a challenge to talk about non-work related subjects.  I would eat my lunch and head right back to my office.
 
Now I find myself talking more with my other half during lunch on the phone than I did while working at home – who would have guessed?

Better Concentration Skills

Over time, concentration skills become better if you work in environments that are not completely quiet.  This can be difficult in the beginning and some perseverance is required.  But you can end up being able to work anywhere, which is a great habit to develop.
 

I have made my choice, working in the company of other people is more stimulating, encouraging, and motivational for my temperament. Leslie writes on his own blog, but more often on his company website.