One of the perks of contracting for me is the freedom to work remotely from time to time. You might not be able to do that all the time, as usually the clients require you to come into the office at least once in a while. However, there is generally more freedom as to where you work from as long as you get the job done.
This is especially true for the tech sector.
I sometimes get into this interesting debate: given advances in technology – where you can access shared data through Dropbox and Google Drive, for example, and are able to collaborate through online conference facilities such as Zoom and Skype – is a physical office really necessary?
Yes, certainly the team needs to be together to bounce ideas off each other and to maintain team spirit, but in my opinion, especially for online businesses, a permanent office might not be necessary, as long as you have a location where team members can gather together when needed.
The variety of locations actually makes the team gathering and the work itself more interesting. Different locations and atmosphere inspire creativity.
So if we would like to work remotely, where shall we start?
1) Work from home
The easiest and most cost effective option is to work from home. Nothing beats a morning coffee from your own kitchen and to start the day straight away without any travel time.
This is especially true if you need a day to focus purely on some research, modelling, coding or any other activities requiring your full concentration without much team collaboration.
One of the downsides though is working from home often feels like a very lonely experience. It is completely fine for a day or two, but we humans are social animals and we do like to be surrounded by people!
2) Work from Cafes
If you get that “I am all alone and I need to get out!” feeling, go to a local café of your choice. Good Internet connection is the key, plus a good cup of coffee and some decent food of course make the experience more pleasant.
You want to choose somewhere that has a good ambiance but is not too crowded, so you can feel like being part of the community but still being able to focus.
Here are a few of my favourite cafes in London:
- Monocle café, Marylebone
This little café in the centre of Marylebone does amazing coffee, healthy Asian inspired food. They have a downstairs area that generally is not too busy and you should be able to get a small but comfortable table. The cosy lighting always helps to keep me focused. If you want a break from your work, you can always grab their travel magazine to let your mind escape to those exotic destinations for a while.
- Raoul’s, Maida Vale
I live close to Maida Vale, so I often pop around to this little restaurant/ café to work. They have very good breakfast/ brunch selections and great coffee. The smoothies are my favourite. During the weekdays, it’s not too busy and you can grab a table around the corner and work away. They also do a variety of yummy cakes and desserts for your sugar boosts during those afternoon hours.
- Ozone, Old Street
Now let’s branch out to the east side, especially given a lot of tech companies and start-ups are located around the Shoreditch area. This café ran by the Kiwis are fantastic for meeting your other co-workers and work away on your passionate project. You will meet a lot of other contractors, freelancers or creative people there.
Listen to some of their interesting discussions might give you a new light bulb moment?
3) Work from private member clubs
Cafes are nice to work in, but sometimes you might feel slightly unwelcome if you sit there the whole day and don’t order much, and the Internet connections can be unstable.
I know private member clubs are pricy, and yes you will have to be invited and pay a monthly membership fee, but once you are a member, the facilities are great and there is generally space available especially during the day.
They are also more suitable to greet clients. I am a member of Home House in London, which I found to be 100% worth the value. Apart from the bar/ party area, which we use over our leisure time, Home House does have a much calmer and quieter section – the drawing room. You can choose your comfy sofa next to the window to work away.
One of the other biggest advantages are these clubs organise a lot of social and business events for members exclusively. So it provides opportunities for you to expand your professional network, meet that person whom can help you to land your next contract, or to become your business partner or investor if you are working on that exciting idea of yours?
4) Hot-desking offices
Let’s admit it although working from different locations can be fun, sometimes it get a bit exhausting to think about where you have to go on a daily basis, and you just want to walk into somewhere you know there is a desk, quiet space and internet connections for you.
Hot-desking is becoming a popular choice for contractors and freelancers, because it provides you a fixed reliable location to work from, but you only pay when you use it.
A few good options I came across are Google Campus, WeWork and Level 39 in Canary Wharf. All of these do require membership, but again once you are set up, it’s very convenient to just walk in whenever you need the space. They also provide networking events and work shops, so it’s not just a desk you are getting; it comes with an entire community who support whatever you do!
5) Work when you travel
So this is the dream – work remotely in an exotic location when you travel. Unlike your idea scenario where you can sail across the Mediterranean Sea, relax on the Caribbean beach, and trek across Sahara desert all year long, most of contractors can only travel while working remotely for clients for a limited time period.
However, there is definitely more potential to reach out to that dream as a contractor than a permanent employee. Even if you can’t make an earning when you travel, you could always take a few weeks or even a few months off as a contractor between projects, and the higher day rate you get compared to your permanent colleagues might just make up for the time you take off from work.
Listen to our podcast from Kieran Munro, who shares his experience as a “travelling contractor” with us.
So those are our five tips for contractors who work or wish to work remotely, what is your experience? Be sure to share your suggestions with us and with our readers!