Working as a freelancer can come with some amazing perks: flexible work schedule, diversity of projects and, of course, the luxury of working from home.
But for all the advantages, there are some definite downsides. For one, all the distractions: family, TV, the overwhelming urge to suddenly scrub the floors when a deadline looms. Plus, working at home can feel pretty isolating, especially if you’re somebody who thrives on social interaction and the buzz of a workplace.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be stuck at home if you don’t want to. From formal to informal arrangements, there are numerous opportunities for freelancers to rub shoulders with others during the workday and get their work done. Here are some options.
Co-working spaces are large offices divided up into smaller spaces that small businesses or freelancers can rent. In addition to free WiFi and a reliable spot to work, these spaces usually provide services and amenities such as kitchens, lounges and meeting rooms. Most co-working spaces also run networking events and present speakers, so there are plenty of opportunities for making contacts and staying current. And they offer an inspiring creative and collaborative environment in a space that’s probably infinitely cooler than any office lease you could afford.
Co-working spaces offer different membership options ranging from daily/hourly rates to annual rates. Privileges may range from full 24-hour building access to occasional drop-ins.
If you’re not at that point (yet) when you want to shell out extra money for a workspace, one of the best (and cheapest options) for freelancers is the local public library. Most libraries offer free WiFi and outlets to plug-in your computer. Plus, desk space is usually plentiful and you never need to worry about overstaying your welcome. But while some people might like the library’s quiet environment, others might find it too quiet and perhaps devoid of the energy they’re looking for.
Coffee shops offer many advantages over libraries. Other than access to food and more importantly caffeine, cafés and coffee shops are buzzing with interest and energy, which can help to stimulate the creative process.
One study published in The Journal of Consumer Research found that an ambient noise level typical of a bustling coffee shop (about 70 decibels) enhanced performance on creative tasks vs. a low noise level (about 50 decibels). On the flip side, if the noise level gets too high (around 85 decibels), the gains are reversed.
The drawback of working in coffee shops is that there’s always the problem of jockeying for limited space and feeling as if you need to buy something in order to justify your presence.
When it comes to working in public spaces, especially in cities where cafes are tapped out with freelancers, people are exchanging coffee shops for the more laid back atmosphere of bars and pubs. They offer many of the same benefits as coffee shops, but for one thing; if you start to hit a wall or work is starting to become tedious, you can always recharge with a beer.
Of course, there’s always the risk of too much “recharging.” But the point is to know yourself and your limits. What works for you might not work for others. Understand what makes you feel motivated, inspired and focused and go with it – whether it takes you to a noisy bar, a sleek workspace or a lazy bench in the park.