Freelance Workspaces: Your Options

Whether you’ve been working for yourself for some time or are considering going solo soon, having a suitable space to work in can help you distinguish when you are and are not at work. While you might be perfectly comfortable curled up on the sofa with your laptop initially, you’ll soon find that niggling wrist and back pain start to sneak in, not to mention the fact you’ll start associating your lounge area with non-lounging activities. The latter will stop you being able to disconnect from work and relaxing when you need to, so this post takes a little look at the working environment options available to freelancers. Which scenario suits you best? 

Home office

Do you have a guest room that’s not in use? You might have to negotiate with other family members in order to claim a quiet corner, but setting up somewhere quiet, away from potential distractions such as the TV is likely to be better for your productivity and your posture. If there’s not a whole room you can claim, think about sectioning off some of another room so that you still have a dedicated workspace. Fitting internal folding doors will give you some privacy and allow you to step out of the ‘office’ when you need to. Choose glass panelled doors like those at Vufold and you won’t need to lose any valuable light either.

While you’re not able to claim tax relief for any furniture items you buy to kit out a home office, you are able to claim a percentage of utility bills (many experts recommend claiming around £3 per week). You should be able to claim for computer equipment that’s specifically used for your business too. You can find out more about what you can and cannot claim for in this HMRC guide. 

Hired office space

If you plan to employ staff members now or in the future, hired office space may be a more sensible choice. To keep things cost effective make sure you’re aware of any servicing costs before you sign on the dotted line and don’t forget to factor in other expenses such as utility bills. Shopping around for utility providers is a good idea and you may even want to consider fixing your utility costs through a broker so you have an accurate projection of future costs for the business. Getting a good deal is largely a mix of luck and tenacity – try and negotiate a rent-free period while your business gets off the ground and consider renting in less central locations if you can. If clients are unlikely to visit your offices, you have a greater deal of flexibility and could benefit from cheaper rents available in out of town industrial locations.

Shared office space

An increasing number of freelancers are choosing to work alongside other business or freelancers in shared office space. For some this means splitting the cost of renting a building so that they are able to afford the location they’d like, while others enjoy the atmosphere of co-working environments.  Cities across the UK now have dedicated freelance workspaces where freelancers pay a fee to come in and use the facilities and don’t have to worry about forking out for things like heating, light and wi-fi. There are usually extra perks too such as coffee machines or cake deliveries. These types of ‘offices’ usually have their own etiquette rules, but if you’re the kind of person who thrives creatively when you’re around other people, you’re likely to be well suited to this type of working.  Search online to find a co-working environment near you.

Where and when you

Sometimes you have to fit work in as you travel or between business meetings, not so much a problem if you don’t need an internet connection but if you do, you’ll need to consider things like phone contracts carefully. Though many coffee shops now offer free Wi-fi it can be safer to stick to your own more secure connection. Rather than pay a separate contract for your tablet, you may be able to run your laptop or tablet device off your phone’s internet allowance by tethering. As most providers now have a cap on what is deemed reasonable usage on unlimited policies, its best not to rely on this method too often but it can certainly be a lifesaver when you are on the move. This article from broadbandchoices talks you through tethering and how to do it using your phone.

Of course, there’s nothing to say you can’t choose a mix of all of the office options above – lots of freelancers find they benefit from having a change of scene a few days each month or each week. A lot of co-working sites work on a subscription basis allowing you a certain amount of access for a fixed fee, so you could enjoy getting out of the house and mixing with others on a part-time basis even if you’re unable to justify the cost of renting or sharing office space full time.

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