This is an interesting dilemma for millions of freelancers. There are obvious attractions to working from home when you are a freelancer, especially in the early days of setting up, as costs are often an issue.
People see the costs savings of not having to commute, not having to buy lunches, not paying for space and generally the time savings too.
They initially view working from home to be distraction free, especially attractive if you’ve just left the open plan office of your previous paid employment job.
You also feel that you will be happier at home, as you can enjoy a work/life balance, that previously you could only dream of with the ‘7am to 7pm’ life of working for someone else.
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 boost to morale of having someone to share things with, especially important when things are going less well. After all, we are all going to have crap days.
The next thing, you find is that the 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, Playstation (maybe this just me), shops, washing to hang out, dinner to put on, ironing etc 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 the house and seek people. Although 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 noisy and the wrong sort of nosiy – music, kids etc. 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 very often a serviced office, which for most freelancers was a cost and commitment too far.
Now there are options – coworking spaces have sprung up all over world and are opening at a rapid rate as the rise globally in self-employment continues to grow off the charts.
What coworking offers, if you find the right one, is a flexible workspace, so you can still enjoy the good elements of home working. It will provide you with a community, something to belong to and that for me is the biggest benefit of coworking over full time home working.
As a freelancer, who has left the world of paid employment for the freedom of self-employment, you have closed the door on your support system, the community of colleagues and that leaves you on your own, no longer belonging.
What coworking provides is others to share ideas, share knowledge, help you and to do business with. It is the serendipity of those chance meetings, that will lead eventually to opportunity to grow your business, that you will never get being at home.
The other advantages of coworking spaces is they often run workshops, events, business networking groups. They can provide you access to mastermind groups and mentoring. So a chance to grow your network beyond the coworking space regulars and get invaluable advice for you and your business.
At the end of the day businesses, especially solo-preneurs, are all better of 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 and not be on their own.
This is what is critical in coworking – collaboration. Your products/service etc will be greatly enhanced by working with others. You will also increase your reach and customer base by sharing and working with others.
So the answer to the question ‘To home work or not to?’ is – not to home work all day every day, as you risk isolation and missing opportunities to grow you and your business.