It’s official: the remote working revolution is here. Remote working has boomed to the point where as many as 50 per cent of us spend half our week working in places other than the office, according new research by co-working firm Regus.
The days of being chained to your desk are long gone, and the soul-destroying daily commute could soon be a thing of the past. Freelance or not, we’re quickly evolving into a nation of home-workers, coffee-shop creatives and hot-desking nomads.
To emphasise my point, I’m writing this very article from a lovely brunch spot on my road. The Wi-fi is great and I can’t imagine any office I’ve ever worked in serving up poached eggs and avocado like these guys do.
Of course, we have technology to thank for this. The digital revolution has been a blessing, allowing millions of us to reclaim our work/life balance, as we choose to work from where we want and, to some extent, when we want.
We workers aren’t the only beneficiaries of this huge change in the way we work though – far from it, in fact. Our clients reap the rewards of higher morale, which according to the study, amounts to an extra 16 per cent of productivity offered by remote workers, not to mention the vast sums they save on office costs.
Given that remote working is fast becoming the new way of working, we need to be smart enough to take advantage of all that it offers. Put simply, the better we are as remote workers, the more successful and happier we should be as freelancers.
So, here’s how you and I should both be able to get the most from working remotely.
Success through structure
As freelancers, we’re naturally very comfortable with the idea of flexible working. Supposing we aren’t needed on-site; many of us already have the privilege of being able to dictate our working days however we please.
Saying that, a strict schedule helps, especially if you work remotely. Whether you’re working from home or anywhere else for that matter, structure your day to suit your workload and lifestyle, and you’ll achieve much more.
Mix it up
Working from the comfort of your own home can be a joy as much as it can be a hindrance to productivity and a symbol of how isolating freelancing can be – trust me on this one. Remote working might be liberating, but being cooped up all day at home with only the dog for company is not.
Try dividing your time between home, coffee-shops, co-working spaces or even membership clubs. The quite phenomenal rise of freelancers means there are now places to work from on almost every corner.
I find working from the same place day in, day out, monotonous. Remote working offers endless possibilities, and in my opinion, you’d be foolish not to embrace them.
Hit the road
I’m sometimes asked: “Being self-employed means you can take as much time off as you like, right?” Right. The problem being, there never seems to be a so-called ‘right time’, does there? In building a business, you often find yourself sacrificing work-free holidays.
But I’m not overly bitter. After all, I can work on trains, planes and on-the-go. Sure, travel mixed with work might not be a holiday in the traditional sense, but I intend to dust off the passport and make the most of it nonetheless. Perhaps you should do the same.
Phone a friend
A few times a month, I spend the day working with a friend, who also freelances. We take it in turns to pick somewhere new, grab a bite to eat and bounce ideas off each other. I always find that another pair of eyes to look over my work offers a fresh and useful perspective.
Don't be a stranger
A client might not always need you onsite, but that isn’t to say they won’t want you to touch base every so often. As much as I like to work remotely (something I’ll outline to a client at the very beginning of a project), face-to-face meetings are important too, and if anything, allow you more freedom overall. I tend to visit clients monthly, but it all depends on the relationship you have with yours.
If your client isn’t chasing you, perhaps it’s time you got proactive. Suggest chatting and collaborating on a team messaging app like Slack, for example, or set up sharing documents for instant and ongoing feedback.
Because you aren’t present physically 100 per cent of the time, regular online meetings, or ‘stand-ups’ as they’re known, will also build trust and give your clients peace of mind.
Whether you work remotely or not, in recent years, one thing has become crystal clear: the rapid rise of self-employment will create new opportunities for us all to take full control of the way we work.
By Benedict Smith