For every benefit there is to be derived from working from home, there are obvious drawbacks.
While you’re beavering away at your dedicated work space or corner of your master bedroom, it would be easy to feel smug about the office-bound colleagues you’ve left behind. Some, of course, you will miss – but being away from people who always seem to pass on colds is definitely not to be sneezed at!
For any freelancer whose work is computer based, the tendency is to start off working from home, primarily because it is cheap and offers a degree of flexibility – especially if you have children. But the stress saved from not having to commute to and from work every day can easily be replaced by the strains of your home/work life becoming too entwined, and that’s without factoring in the amount of times you get cold called or have to answer a knock at the door from a delivery person who wants you to look after a parcel for your next door neighbours.
Like with most things in life, striking a good work/life balance is important to a) your sanity and b) your work productivity, which is why, over time, many freelancers look for alternatives to the work-at-home regime.
The good news is that there are a few options out there, each with their own benefits. You could rent an entire office, rent desk space within an office, or go down the co-worker or ‘hot desk’ route, where office space is shared on a part-time basis.
Rent an Office
As a freelancer, renting a whole office may be financially prohibitive, but the cost can be offset by hiring out desk space to other workers.
Also, if you decide to go from being a sole trader to limited company status in a short period of time, then it could be beneficial to set up your working environment just how you want it before your business grows and other decisions need to be made or take priority. Rather than be stuck in the corner of your box bedroom cum work space or perched on the end of the dining room table, the thought of an office, surrounded by like-minded individuals rather than household clutter, could work out to be far more efficient if not more appealing.
If you’re based in the Thames Valley region, for instance, offices to rent in Oxford are plentiful and compared to the eye-watering prices of central London, which are set to go up another 5-9% in 2014 due to low vacancy levels, they are available to lease at extremely reasonable rates. Rental levels in Oxford, on the other hand, have remained relatively constant with the county being well-placed to weather the uncertain economic times. There’s also the added bonus of being in one of the country’s most beautiful cities, surrounded by rolling countryside, which is easily accessible by most modes of transport, however, you should expect city centre office space in Oxford to command a premium.
Rent Desk Space
If renting an office is beyond your budget, then you could rent desk space on a monthly basis. This gets you out of the house and around other working people.
For creative types, having other working people around you to bounce ideas off is an essential part of the thought process. From a productivity point of view, if you get an extra day’s work out of your month because you’re more focused in a dedicated office space than you would be at home then it’s likely the venture will have paid for itself.
Alternatively, you could jump on the ‘hot-desking’ bandwagon, which has divided opinion since it first became popular in the 1990s. Some like it hot; others do not, and Donna Dawson, a behavioural psychologist, definitely falls into the latter category. “Hot-desking prevents you developing individuality within the office,” she was quoted as saying in an article in The Guardian. “It is a continual reminder that you are just a cog in the machine and mustn’t get too settled.”