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From the day I first stepped into an office, I’ve wanted to work from home. Over the months and years that I have spent with different employers even the very best days had with the very best co-workers couldn’t outweigh the hope that I could one day work from the comfort of my very own humble abode.
Last year I made my dream a reality and I have now officially been a self-employed freelancer of architectural drawing for around eighteen months. It’s Monday afternoon and I have a list of projects to work on throughout the week. It feels like the perfect time to reflect on what I’ve discovered. The good, the bad and the ugly!
Yes you can work from anywhere you want to…no it’s not always practical. I’m lucky that I can do all of my work with my laptop and a mouse. I need nothing else and so theoretically can pick and choose where I want to work, changing up my environment every day, moving from one exciting location to the next.
The reality is that sun causes a glare on my screen so the sunny, fresh air filled park or table outside the local cafe isn’t really an option. My laptop has a terrible battery life so heading to the cosy coffee spot down the road and then stealing their electricity isn’t really the ideal set up. Also, I click click click constantly, so a quiet spot in the library isn’t really suitable either.
Mostly, I switch between my desk, the sofa and the dining table. It isn’t exotic and it isn’t super exciting, but it is comfortable and it is more flexible than having one seat in an office.
Hours are so flexible and I am totally in control of my own time…for the most part. Some mornings I leap out of bed at 6am ready to face the day, others I take a little (or a lot) longer to surface. With a commute of roughly 30 seconds from my bed to my laptop and no set starting time, it’s tricky to sleep in and I am able to start the day when I’m ready to. I’m also able to decide how I spend my day and can step away from work to do other day to day tasks instead of waiting until after 5.
The major downside to my wonderfully flexible schedule however, is that most of my clients are also self-employed and are also wonderfully flexible. So much so that I regularly receive emails at 3am and “quick calls” on a Saturday morning. For the most part I don’t mind. I know what it’s like when something important comes to mind and you want to make sure it’s resolved immediately, but it often means that I don’t really have defined working hours and clients do take liberty of this.
Money is another thing I have control over and I adjust my fees to suit the demands of my clients and charge appropriately for my services. It takes a bit of practice and confidence to ask a client for a large sum of money and not grit your teeth while you wait for them to reply, but it definitely gets easier with each project that goes by. If my diary was full all day every day I could make a pretty penny, but that’s the clincher; “if”.
Some weeks I will be so busy that I’ll have to squeeze every hour out of the day to make sure I meet my deadlines whilst other weeks I will be lucky to get more than one email into my inbox. Thankfully the later is rare and I do receive a steady of flow of work for the most part, however this can be the key reason that so many people choose not to follow the self-employed route. A bit of sensible budgeting and making sure you always have a buffer in case things go downhill for more than a week or so are key.
How many times have you rolled your eyes as the grumpy co-worker in the office starts their daily rant or had a good moan to your family about someone frustrating the second you get in the door? When you work from home, that just isn’t a problem…but I bet you can already see where I’m going with this. The one major downside to working from home is the lack of people around you.
No matter how much Debbie from marketing loves a good grumpy Monday it is still nice to have company when you work. It can be lonely working by yourself, I can’t sugar coat it. The best way to combat this is to find others who do the very same. If you’re a crafter for example, there are loads of community groups who meet on a monthly basis to talk about business and share ideas. It’s just a case of finding simple alternatives that ensure your work doesn’t isolate you entirely.
What I can say for sure is that working from home, even with it’s downfalls, is still absolutely the style of working that suits me down to the ground. The advantages completely out way any of the negatives and as time goes on I am getting better and better at handling any speed bumps I meet in the road.