The coffee shop – pros and cons
It’s become something of a cliché, the freelancer who sets up a laptop in a coffee shop and spends the day nursing a coffee while making use of the free Wi-Fi. This certainly has a couple of advantages over working from home, but there are also some significant inconveniences.
In a coffee shop, there is the obvious benefit of human contact and interaction, even if it’s just ordering a drink or asking for the barista’s expertise as a coffee guide when deciding what to order next.
Coffee shops also offer a neutral space to meet clients. An informal discussion in these comfortable and laid-back surroundings can be highly productive; however, for more formal meetings or presentations, this kind of setting may be inappropriate.
Then there is the issue of facilities. While coffee shops generally offer Wi-Fi, they are usually notoriously bad. For someone who needs fast and reliable internet, the connection in a local Starbucks is likely to become a source of frustration very quickly.
While there is certainly a role in the freelancer’s world for this kind of location – and many make do by switching between working from home and heading to a coffee shop – most will find it impractical as a permanent solution.
For many freelancers, the discovery of coworking spaces comes as something of a revelation; these dedicated working environments designed with their needs in mind offer most of the conveniences of working from home or working in a coffee shop without many of the disadvantages.
Freelancers usually value their freedom, but as we mentioned before, the lack of routine can prove highly detrimental to productivity and creativity.
Coworking spaces provide an ideal compromise. Many freelancers feel the act of leaving the house and “going to work” gives much-needed structure to their day. This leaves you free to manage your own time but encourages you to stick to a routine, offering the best of both worlds.
Motivating environment – and perfect for networking
Coworking spaces are often populated by other hardworking and driven freelancers employed in a wide range of different fields. For many, this kind of atmosphere can be highly motivating, especially after coming from the experience of working at home.
In many ways, this kind of situation can be far more positive than sharing an office space with co-workers from the same company since the element of office politics this often engenders is absent in a coworking space.
Working in a coworking space is also the perfect environment for networking, as professionals from across the spectrum are brought together.
You may discover new ideas from people with different skill sets, or you may find the person sitting at the desk across from you is looking for the services you provide.
Inexpensive, flexible, convenient, professional
The great advantage of renting a coworking space is that it is extremely flexible. Most places rent desks by the week or even by the day.
You will usually find the full suite of facilities like phone lines and internet access included in the price, and there is no long-term commitment – factors that make setting up in a traditional office prohibitively expensive.
Often, there will also be meetings rooms at your disposal for when you need to meet with clients in a more professional setting – which will help create a far better impression than you could in a coffee shop.
Finding the right mix
Setting up as a freelancer can be a daunting prospect and a significant challenge. Without the reassurance of working for an established company, you need to think about finding new customers, managing relationships and developing your business by yourself.
However, for many, the biggest problems come from a lack of productivity when working alone. Every freelancer is different, and the key to being creative and productive is probably finding the right mix of working from home and using public spaces like coffee shops.
However, as more and more are coming to realize, incorporating coworking spaces into this blend can prove to be a very positive step in becoming a successful freelance designer.