There are a number of benefits associated with working from home – most notably the fact that the commute time is INCREDIBLY short (no sweaty train, tube or bus journeys and expensive parking) and the dress code is pretty casual. The lack of communal fridge is also a big positive, with no passive aggressive post-it notes stuck to mugs/milk bottles/odorous snacks. However, there are a few challenges too; it’s far too easy to procrastinate and end up scrubbing the bathtub or hoovering the curtains when you’ve got a deadline for client work approaching, and the lack of in-house tech support can be a challenge when all of your computer equipment decides to have a day off when you’ve got back to back video calls booked in. Remote working from home can also be incredibly isolating, meaning that you’ve got no-one but the cat/dog/pot plant to talk to when you need to rant about the HMRC hold music or a particularly challenging customer call.
As the number of remote working freelance professional grows, so too does the number of available ‘hot desks’ available in co-working spaces. Most towns now an office space that can be rented per hour/day/month with WIFI, desk space and even meeting rooms (there are several that I know that also have bars on site as an added perk!). Although this increases the monthly overheads for business owners, I know a number of individuals who have chosen to take up this option rather than work solely from home. If they have regular client meetings, the on-site meeting rooms are definitely preferable to business meetings at home, surrounded by pets, children’s toys or washing. Working away from your home can also make it easier to ‘switch off’ at the end of the day, as the office isn’t permanently set up on the dining room table or in the spare room, a stone’s throw away from where you are trying to relax. The main reason that my remote working colleagues opt for renting desk or office space in a co-working office is for the social benefits, as working alongside other people can help reduce the negative feelings of isolation that can be experienced by home-based workers, particularly when they are having a challenging day!
According to research carried out by the Harvard Business Review, co-working spaces not only help to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, but can help to build on the important psychological and social values of ‘community, collaboration, learning, and sustainability’. Co-working spaces are a dynamic hub for freelance professionals, and it’s not unusual for individuals working within these spaces to end up working with their co-workers on shared projects. Unfortunately, as with all shared office environments, there’s always going to be someone with poor kitchen etiquette, so if you’re desperate to escape kitchen politics a co-working space might not work for you.
For me, working from my dedicated home office gives me the opportunity and flexibility to build my full time role conveniently around my personal commitments; I have two dogs and regularly foster rescue dogs looking for a full time home, so being able to break my day up to fit in dog walks and feeds is incredibly useful! Co-working spaces have a definite value, but if I am feeling a little isolated (as it is worryingly easy to go for several days without speaking to another human face to face), I have joined several online communities of remote working business support professionals – the perfect space if I need impartial advice or to share any minor issues that might be bothering me.
Do you work from home or from a co-working space? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the home working vs. co-working space debate!