In a world where more and more people work remotely, away from the office or on the move, you need to find the space that works for you.
Recently, I took a big step into a new world. Its a world I was unfamiliar with, a place where only I made the rules, and nobody cared if I broke them. I’d previously only worked as part of a team, with a common aim, and shared responsibility. I enjoyed the support and encouragement of colleagues, the camaraderie was a big part of the experience. I worked with people I liked and trusted, and who, I hope, liked and trusted me. It was a safe place. We had many customers, and over the years we built strong friendships and happy allegiances together.
I worked in the hospitality trade. Long hours, customer facing, where service means everything and reputations can be crushed at the drop of a Trip Advisor review. Through early starts and late nights, 100 hour weeks became the norm. Even when not physically present in the business, as a shareholder, I was always at the end of a phone. On holiday, I would see my family’s eyes roll as I took another ‘quick call’ or answered ‘just one’ email. I built a great team around me, and we supported each other well. But it was hard. Physically and mentally exhausting, its a tough industry, and the work is relentless. Every person who walks through the door is a potential advertisement. The public become your marketing department. Give them a good experience and they’ll tell twenty people. Give them a bad experience, they’ll tell fifty. Its an old adage, but its absolutely true.
Eventually, it all began to take its toll, and inevitably the time came to walk away. I needed a new way, a fresh direction. As my fifth decade approached, the time felt right for this new beginning. I found a way to make what had always been a hobby into my job. I would work for myself. I would write.
I became a freelance writer and welcomed the change. I would have more time for family and friends. I would take holidays without the constant email and phone traffic of work. Occasionally, I would even turn my phone off (that was a tough new lesson to learn). A wide variety of interesting work started coming in, and I relaxed into this new world. At times, and after the hours I’d been used to working, my working week would feel closer to retirement than work. I liked that.
Like every job, though, it has its issues. The scourge of the freelancer - procrastination - is a constant threat.
This is a lifestyle and a way of working that requires discipline and self-incentive. Time management is essential. I live near a couple of beautiful parks and a river, and can often feel their pull. But I don’t give in. Well….not always, anyway. I find that the trick is to find a space.
In a world where more and more people work remotely, away from the office or on the move, you need to find the space that works for you. Working from home is the most obvious answer for many, but it comes with its own unique distractions - in my case my dual procrastination demons - my book and record collections. Family, pets, neighbours and even the window cleaner can all distract you from the process. Libraries offer a quiet and free, local space to get away from it all and get some work done. Coffee shops and cafes are an option, though they may limit the time to quiet periods. There are also pay-by-the-minute spaces with all the facilities you’d require of an office space, but with food and drink included in the price.
The growth of the world of remote working is mirrored by the growth of co-working spaces. Usually based on a reasonably priced membership plan, these spaces offer a variety of services to the remote worker or freelancer. Open plan hot-desking, dedicated spaces, meeting rooms and boardrooms are all available. Some can also provide mail and call handling. The co-working space I often use even has, as well as free hot and soft drinks, its own bar and coffee shop, discounted for members, as well as exhibition and events spaces. For the freelancer, its perfect, as it offers both the opportunity to work alone and the opportunity to make valuable connections with other creatives.
A new world is opening up to us. New ideas, new thoughts, and new markets. We’re already seeing a rise in freelance workers and creative start ups with a fresh new outlook on the world of work. As business begins to see the many benefits of encouraging staff to work remotely and independently, we’ll no doubt see more innovative ways for remote workers to access space and services on demand. Here’s to the new life.