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Home Office Alternatives For Freelancers

Marc Chaput
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If you're a solopreneur, freelancer or telecommuter, you've probably struggled to find your ideal work environment. Working from home is convenient but may not be the right fit for you.  Let's look at some home office alternatives for freelancers.

Pros & cons of the home office and alternatives

In this article, we'll review the pros and cons of various workspaces. Keep reading to find out which one gets our vote.

Working from home

The upsides

Working from home definitely has its advantages. For one, having a home office allows you to claim a portion of your rent on your income tax return. Working from home also means you get to work in your pyjamas if that's something you like to do.  Other advantages include having access to your kitchen throughout the day. This will help you save money, especially when you consider how tempting it is to go out for lunch when you work anywhere else.

The downsides

Despite the advantages mentioned above, working from home requires a good amount of discipline. With no one around to judge or supervise you, who's going to stop you from going on YouTube? Who's going to limit your Facebook time to a reasonable amount? At home, the risk of procrastination is high.  Outside of online distractions, I sometimes start cleaning my house between work tasks. It's hard to say whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.  It's definitely easier to stay on top of housework when you can switch your laundry from the washer to the dryer in between emails. But when doing the dishes leads to cleaning the bathroom and de-cluttering your closet, your business productivity can really start to suffer!

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Is cafe culture really freelance culture?

When first I set out to start my own business, I thought I'd be working in cafes all the time. In a sense, the discomfort I feel in cafes makes me get more work done in less time. I'm also less likely to waste time on social media for privacy reasons.  But now that more and more people are telecommuting and working for themselves, cafes are extremely crowded and the Wi-Fi isn't always reliable. It can also be hard to concentrate on any writing-related tasks when there are audible conversations taking place all around you, or when the music is loud or just not to your liking.  That being said, cafes can be a great place to get inspired and adequately caffeinated. In this sense, going to work in a cafe for a short stint can be a great way to overcome procrastination and get out of the house for a bit if you work from home most of the time.

Co-working spaces are the new home offices

If you find yourself procrastinating while trying to work at home, and if you have trouble concentrating in cafes, co-working spaces might be for you. These spaces generally look like cafes, only instead of buying coffee, you rent a desk or a spot at a table. (Usually, coffee is available too.)  Co-working spaces aren't necessarily quiet, so if your work requires a lot of concentration, you may need to bring a pair of headphones to drown out the noise. If you invest in a good pair, you should consider writing them off as a business expense on your Canada income tax return. Personally, listening to instrumental music or to the same song on repeat helps me concentrate.  These spaces generally sell memberships that allow you to access the premises as much or as little as you want, up to seven days a week. If this isn't in your budget, you can always just drop in occasionally and pay their daily rate.

What's the best home office alternative?

The beauty of freelancing is that we freelancers don't actually have to choose where we work. Personally, having a fully operational home office is non-negotiable. But I definitely make use of cafes and co-working spaces when I need a change of scenery, and I love that I have that option.  What about you? Where do you do your best work?

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