Telecommuting vs Coworking: A Guide to Staying Productive as a Freelancer

The Problem: I’m Bored of My Home Office!

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We all know how great it can be to work from home: no fixed schedule, no dress code, no need to force yourself to work when you’re not feeling up to it. But the decision to work from home is about more than just comfort and convenience. If you’re a full-time freelancer and you have rent to pay, it’s important to find a work space where you can maximize your efficiency, not just your comfort.

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To an extent, your home office might be that space. If you’re more comfortable, there’s a higher chance that you’ll feel motivated to make the most of your time, rather than simply waiting for the day to end. But for many people, a 100% telecommuting schedule simply isn’t efficient. In this article by The Atlantic, we see that, while job satisfaction increases for employees who are allowed to work from home, that satisfaction actually plateaus after a couple of days per week. In these studies, workers who operated entirely from home performed worse than workers who had a choice between home and the office.

As a freelancer, you may not have an office to go to, which makes the decision a bit more complicated. Is a noisy cafe with bad wifi really a more productive space than your own home? And even if variety is helpful, how can you work in a varied environment if you’re self-employed and you don’t have an office?

The Solution: Variety!

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You guessed it: that’s where coworking spaces come in. With coworking spaces, you can rent a remote office for as long as you’d like, with as many (or as few) amenities as you’d like. The rent may be unappealing if you’re new to the business, but there are plenty of more humbly-designed coworking spaces available in major cities, perfect for if you’ve got regular clients and an established work schedule. Working away from home a couple days a week might be the change of pace you need to keep your mind sharp. There’s no shame in admitting that your focus might wane if you’re working from home all day, every day. Better to acknowledge that it happens to the best of us and find a way to fix it.

Perhaps the biggest benefit that coworking spaces offer to freelancers is social interaction. One of the main downsides to telecommuting is the social isolation—essentially, loneliness. When you don’t interact with others at all during the day and you’re surrounded by the same environment, it hurts your quality of life—and by extension, your productivity. Going out to cafes or eating lunch at the park can help break up the day and force you to get some fresh air, but it doesn’t change the fact that, as a freelancer, you don’t have any coworkers to talk to.

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At a coworking space, you’d be in the perfect semi-social environment to have some light chatter with acquaintances, without getting too caught up in conversation to work.

Best of all, after commuting to the remote office for a few days, you’ll probably be happy to roll out of bed into your home office and get straight to work. In the end, that’s the real goal: there’s no perfect workplace for a freelancer, but with enough variety and balance, any office can be your most productive office.