What can we learn from other freelancers? Often times when sitting at home or in a coffee shop working I wonder how other people are doing it? How do they organize their work days? Do they stick to a certain routine? Are there special places they go to concentrate? Are there any tools they use to be more productive? Do they sometimes feel lonely and seek the companionship of other freelancers as the rise of the co-working spaces in most cities might suggest?
I think those are questions every person working remotely, whether in a fixed team or on a freelance basis, has asked him or her. It’s not always easy to work alone, on your own and to be motivated and energized if there isn’t any tangible place you have to be or a fixed routine that is set before you and needs to be followed.
Some have already found the answers for themselves and published lengthy blog articles about it to share their wisdom with the world. Ryan Wilcox, for example, has been working remotely for about ten years and shares his learnings on the toptal blog. For him the most critical part to successful remote work is how you set up your office space: stable internet connection, a quiet space to think, a noise proof headset are the basics and he adds tools like chat rooms, time zone calendars and bug trackers (for developers) to create a good work environment. Besides these tools he also talks about how to make your presence be felt as a remote worker and suggests to check in in the morning with the rest of the team just as you would in front of the coffee machine in the shared office. Ask about the weekend, chit chat about the kids or the latest developments to build trust and companionship within the team. Just as you say ‘Hello’ in the morning, let your team mates know when you are out for lunch or when you are about to close the computer in the evening. It’s nice to know what everyone is up to and you will all feel better working with a person you know and can rely on.
There are many ways that can make your freelance or remote situation more easy both for you and for your clients and I believe it is just a matter of trying it out, of being transparent and of staying humble to accept request for changes to your working style.
I will be on the lookout for other recommendations such as Ryan Wilcox’s as I think all can contribute to making work smoother and letting more people enjoy the flexibility and creativity of remote work.