These numbers shouldn’t really surprise anyone. Thanks to the rise of the Internet, workers are able to easily connect with employers scattered across the globe. Freelancers are getting work through mainstream sites like Craigslist, LinkedIn, and freelancer-specific sites like Elance, ODesk, and Fiverr. As time goes on, more professionals and more businesses become more comfortable working with people they’ve never met in real life, but have come to trust online.
Employers embrace contracted workers because they cost less, are flexible and don’t need much training, if any. On the other hand, freelancers embrace self-employment because it means more agility, less stress (assuming the work is there), the freedom to set your own schedule, and the ability work wherever you want.
But where is exactly is the best place for freelancers to tackle their work?
Well, different workers naturally prefer different environments. Similarly, different kinds of projects might lend themselves better to different atmospheres.
While some freelancers choose to go to the traditional route and rent an office, it’s worth asking yourself if you really need to incur monthly office expenses. If you’d rather save some revenue, consider these five alternatives:
1. Your Home
Most freelancers need two things to do their jobs: a computer and an Internet connection. If you’re already paying for connectivity in your home, why not maximize that investment by letting it double as your office, too?
In addition to saving money on office space and gasoline, those who work at home report a slew of benefits, including a better work/life balance, fewer distractions, more time with your family and an overall better and healthier atmosphere.
It’s important to remember, though, that working at home can be pretty isolating. Combat that isolation by going grocery shopping at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday, for example, or even by becoming active in an online community. Pet owners, fear not: Talking to your furry children is perfectly normal.
2. Your Favorite Coffee Shop
Who doesn’t need a good cup of coffee to start the day? I’ll tell you who: the undead.
Coffee shops make great workspaces for all kinds of folk—even those who stick to tea. You can grab a latte, set up shop and lose yourself in your work, just like the other freelancers you’re bound to find doing the same.
Calling a coffee shop your office is beneficial in terms of forcing you to be social. You’ll also establish relationships with staff and other regular customers. And believe it or not, that background chatter is actually making you more productive.
Please keep in mind, though, that no one likes the person who turns the coffee shop into their personal office. You know the type: devices scattered across multiple tables, yapping loudly on the phone while ordering a cup of coffee before posting up for six hours. To avoid becoming that person—which should be a goal, no doubt—spend money, tip, be aware of your space, and come in during off-peak hours.
3. The Library
In college, you crammed a semester’s worth of knowledge into a 10-hour study marathon at your school’s library. Similarly, as a professional, you can crush white papers, website designs and the like at your local library, channeling your past glory (though instead of grabbing a Red Bull to get through the final hour, you’ll probably choose a camouflaged mixed drink.)
Some freelancers choose to go the old-fashioned route and grab some table space at the nearby library to get their work done. In doing so, you can enjoy peace and quiet in an environment that almost forces you to work. To experience these perks, all you have to pull out of your wallet is your sweet, free library card.
But if you’re the kind of worker who gets super pissed when things don’t go your way or a client is giving you a hard time, you probably want to work elsewhere. Shhh!
4. A Coworking Facility
Coworking, the flexible working philosophy in which all kinds of professionals—from freelancers to those who work at small businesses to those employed by industry juggernauts—share working space. Coworking gives you the benefit of having professional office space (you can even rent out dedicated meeting rooms) without having to write heavy rent checks each month.
Freelancers flock to coworking spaces because they’re able to bounce new ideas off other creative folk. They meet new people, and those relationships develop into friendships and new employment opportunities (and even romances?).
Coworkers report an uptick in productivity, focus and confidence. The downside is that you’ve got to pay to play—but when isn’t that the case?
When it’s nice outside, any person who has a pulse and works the typical 9-to-5 (errrr, 8:30-5:30—thanks, America!) job would trade anything to be under the sun, even if that meant leaving that last donut in the kitchen.
One of the best perks of freelancing is that you can work from anywhere. So take advantage of the nice days, even if that means simply bringing your laptop outside and sitting on the porch. Working outside helps alleviate stress and refocus attention. And that’s on top of the sun giving you that delicious, organic Vitamin D.
If you do decide to work outside, you’ll have to make some contingency plans (duh). Electronic devices don’t take too kindly to the rain, and you can’t risk losing your fingers to frostbite.
Choose Your Own Adventure
What’s your favorite office space? Have tips for finding a fast wifi connection? Tell us in the comments.