Make no mistake; the freelancer revolution is in full swing throughout the Western world. The number of active freelancers in the UK has grown by 14% during the last decade, for example, while more than half of the US workforce is expected to be self-employed by the year 2020.
While freelancing remains a dream for many employees, however, the practical requirements of working independently can be overwhelming if they are not managed correctly. This is particularly true when working from home, as this can create numerous potential issues in terms of cost, productivity and the quality of your communication.
The Practical Side of Freelancing: How to Optimise your Performance From Home
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the key considerations that you will need to bear in mind when working from home on a full-time basis:
Reducing Heating and Electricity Costs
Let’s start with the basics, as working from home will increase your rate of energy consumption and the overall cost of utilities (particularly during the winter). This can quickly eat into your earnings if you are not careful, so it is important to take a proactive approach towards resolving this problem.
This requires a two-pronged approach, as you first look to reduce your consumption before seeking out alternative ways of lowering your overall costs.
In terms of the former, freelancers can learn a great deal from SMEs. Business electricity firms recently announced a regulation that would require companies to use automated metres, which send usage data to suppliers on a half-hourly basis. This translates into more accurate bills, helping users to minimise their consumption and costs over time. By using a smart metre that performs a similar function, freelancers can achieve the same goals and operate more efficiently.
You may also be able to benefit from financial legislation, as UK-based freelancers can apply for tax relief to cover the cost of working from home. This applies to utilities, phone-lines and broadband, and the total savings can make a huge difference over time.
Create a Viable Schedule of Work and Maintain Contact with Your Clients
Working from home as a freelancer can create extremes in terms of mood and outlook, especially when you are new to the concept. You may find it to be a completely isolating experience, for example, while others could well struggle to focus and maintain the necessary levels of productivity.
There are solutions to these issues, however, some of which can have a cumulative impact on your experience when working from home. Establishing a schedule of work that is tailored to suit your lifestyle and additional duties helps you to maintain focus, for example, whether you favour short bursts of intense work and regular breaks or a more traditional, nine-to-five shift.
Similarly, maintaining regular contact with your clients and meeting them on a monthly basis helps to build rapport while also enabling you to communicate frequently with the outside world.
On a final note, it is important to interact through different mediums when liaising with clients. It is believed that a staggering 93% of all communication is non-verbal, for example, so be sure to schedule video calls and in-person meet-ups where possible.
Create an Office Space That is Segregated From the Rest of your Home
We have already touched on how freelancers can struggle to optimise their productivity, but this is not always the result of isolation or a lack of focus. It can also be caused by stress, as you struggle with the burden of completing work while also maintaining a steady supply of clients.
This situation is often exacerbated when working from home, not least because this once-intimate space becomes your office and makes it difficult to escape the stresses and strains of your career. To negate this, you will need to ensure that you create a segregated space that can serve as your office, so that you have a single room that is utilised for work and nothing else. You should also avoid working outside of this room, particularly in areas such as the bedroom or lounge.
This can have an important psychological effect, as it creates a designated workspace and leaves the remainder of your home as a sanctuary from the pressures of work.
So there you have it, three simple steps that can help you become a more efficient and effective freelancer when working from home.