It’s possible that most of the tasks you do at work don’t require you to be on site. In fact, you could freelance from home – or anywhere – and live a better quality of life.
Ever catch yourself sitting at your desk and realizing that a whole day has gone by without speaking face-to-face with someone else? Or, that your interactions were either not work-related, or could have easily been settled via text or email?
So, why don’t you make the shift and freelance from home?
Working from home is becoming increasingly popular, not only because it provides flexibility, but also because it saves money in a number of ways. A number of statistics about working from home support this claim, including that someone who transitions to a freelance life working from home saves an estimated $4,000 per year on expenses like commuting and dry cleaning. But the largest advantage that people claim is a more flexible schedule and an improved work-life balance.
In one survey, nearly everyone said that working from home would make a significant positive difference in their quality of life, but there are other questions you need to think about when making a switch over to a freelance lifestyle.
Will you really be productive?
Presumably, the biggest hurdle regarding working from home is the question of productivity. We know that staying home might tempt you to sleep in, distract yourself with cleaning, or give you an excuse to watch the game instead of finishing a spreadsheet. But, studies show that these thoughts on working from home are not true for most.
Studies show that:
- Approximately 65% say that working from home would make them more productive (FlexJobs)
- About 75% of telecommuters claim that they have higher productivity because they work at home (Buffer)
- Two thirds also say that the transition from traditional office to off-site has improved their productivity (SHRM)
And ultimately, what is so productive about the office, anyway?
Studies show that the daily grind in an office only boils down to about three dedicated hours of work. The rest of the time spent at an expensive piece of office real estate is filled with socializing, reading the news, and other distractions. While socializing is great, and there is something to collective office morale, the benefits of working from home far outweigh these.
Great for work-life balance
Achieving that elusive work-life balance seems to be an impossible task these days, but one thing that might make it more possible is an ability to freelance from home. Flexibility is key to making this balance a reality, so getting to freelance from home just makes more and more sense.
About 75% of people who work remotely actively feel that this arrangement greatly improves their work-life balance, with many of these saying that they now have the ability to take care of their kids more effectively. So they can definitely focus better on work with that peace of mind, and it’s a benefit for the next generation, too.
Great for companies
Working from home seems to be a win for everyone, but businesses may actually have the most to gain. Test cases show that businesses are making more money, have happier people working with them, and are helping their bottom line because of allowing for flexible hours.
People who achieve a more balanced lifestyle are less stressed, happier with the businesses they work for, and more likely to stay. A study claims that by 2020 those companies that can offer flexible scheduling will see a 10% rise in retention.
Less churn. On the opposite side, a lack of flexibility is affecting retention in a big way. A study by IT solutions company Softchoice demonstrated that almost three-quarters of those surveyed said that they would consider the option of leaving their current roles for ones that allowed them to work working from home (Softchoice).
Smaller office spaces
Do you know how much it costs just to keep the lights on? Savings from rental payments, utilities, and housekeeping are enormous. American Express is already saving over $15 million a year and Aetna Insurance, which has about half of its workforce telecommute, says they save close to $70 million because they do not need as many dedicated offices or computer stations.
Companies are using innovations like Hot Desking to maximize the office space they retain and then allowing hires the freedom to get their work done on their own time (and in their own facilities).
Great for the environment
One aspect of working from home that you may not have considered is the ecological impact. If you think about it, having a home and an office is redundant, when it’s possible for one to serve as both. That means less industrialization, less use of resources, and (because of less commuting) a whole lot lower of a carbon footprint.
In fact, based on statistics, telecommuters in the U.S. are saving the earth from 3.6 million tons of commute-related greenhouse gasses every year. And, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, because telecommuters are not using double the lights and air conditioning, they are also saving around 12 billion kilowatt-hours of energy annually.
Isn’t it nice to do your part to fight climate change, just by working from home?
Tips on getting freelance work done
Working on your own without office distractions, you’re bound to be more productive.
That being said, it’s still good policy to create work parameters for yourself that would be similar to a standard workday. For example:
- Schedule your time the same way you would a normal workweek. By training yourself to work regular hours, you will be able to follow a steady work rhythm. That also means taking self-mandated breaks. You might be tempted to work marathon hours, but breaks actually help you regroup and focus.
- Create a workspace that works for you. It’s best not to do work on your couch, in your bed, or at your kitchen table. A dedicated place is important. If you need to get out of the house for this to happen, try visiting a local library, coffee shop, or taking on a virtual office. Or you could always follow this San Francisco trend of using your parking space!
- During work hours, Try to get rid of distractions like push notifications, social media, and non-work related texts. There are a number of great apps that can help you control the time you spend on social media and keep you on track.
The life of a freelancer
There’s a personal freedom to becoming your own boss and controlling your own time when you decide to go freelance. However, there’s a part of it that can be challenging. Now that you do not have an HR representative, what happens with such aspects? What about the other structures that your old office had in place like insurance, training, and marketing of your services?
The trade-off for the power to be your own boss is that you are now your own business and have to take on some of these responsibilities for yourself. As a one-person shop, you will want to know more about what it means to market yourself, to promote your work, and other logistics.
Tips on life as a freelancer
Running your own finances means making sure that you are doing your taxes correctly and keeping track of all expenses. There are a number of apps and programs that can help you with scanning your receipts and controlling your budget and spending.
In addition, as a freelancer, your tax situation may change dramatically. It is recommended that you withhold your own taxes quarterly so as not to get a false idea of how much money you are earning and you should be wary of the self-employment tax which can hit hard. And you may want to incorporate yourself in order to be better set up to deal with taxes.
Making a conscious effort to connect with other people is even more important when you freelance from home. 20 percent of contractors cite loneliness as what they struggle with the most.
Just because you freelance from home, it doesn’t mean you should stop learning. One of the great things about your new flexibility is that you can take whatever courses you deem will help advance your stature in your field.
If you are wondering about insurance, the freelancer’s union has some good options.
Call the marketing department
When you are a freelancer, you instantly become your own marketing department. Suddenly you have to hustle a little to make sure you are getting the projects you want. Here are some ideas on pitching yourself.
To some extent you are now living in a world of intermediate employment. As you may know, when looking for new clients, it can be frustrating to be rejected or simply not hear back from them. Stay with it and recognize this as part of your freelance life.
Get yourself out there
In addition to a professional-looking LinkedIn profile, it’s recommended to create your own portfolio website and put content on it that shows you off in a positive light.
Don’t forget about growth
While many freelancers are thinking about the next gig, try to create a marketing plan for yourself that demonstrates where you would like your freelance path to go in the future. Just because you are a freelancer, it does not mean that you should ignore growth potential.
Great for the environment
If you are teetering on the edge of your decision to become a freelancer, one positive aspect of working from home that you may not have considered is its ecological impact. If you think about it, having a home and an office is redundant, when it’s possible for one to serve as both. That means less industrialization, less use of resources, and (because of less commuting) a whole lot lower of a carbon footprint.
In fact, based on work from home statistics, remote freelancers in the U.S. are saving the earth from 3.6 million tons of commute related greenhouse gasses every year. And, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, because telecommuters are not using double the lights and air conditioning, they are also saving around 12 billion kilowatt-hours of energy annually.
Isn’t it nice to do your part to fight climate change, just by working from home?
The freelance from home setup isn’t conducive for everyone’s work habits. For some, distractions at home may be overwhelming. For others, not being able to separate a workspace from a home space might cause greater rather than lessened stress and could lead to overwork.
All in all, however, working from home appears to not only be a great way to save you time and stress, but also give you a chance to control your career in the way you want it to move forward. If you can visualise your productivity, like to control your own destiny careerwise, and want to save the environment at the same time, the freelance world may be the right move for you.
The suggestion for those with these issues would be to find another place (outside of the house) to get work done, like a coffee shop or library. In addition, the lack of cohesion may make some projects more difficult to coordinate. Of course, you can solve that by hiring within your general physical area so that when it is necessary to meet face-to-face, you can use temporary office spaces and meeting rooms to get the work gang together. You can also hire experienced freelancers who know how to work around these and other remote work challenges.