Freelancing has its ups and downs. We get the freedom to make our own schedule, but we don’t have steady paycheques all the time. We are our own bosses, but in reality, our clients are our bosses. Making the jump to freelancing or running a small business is a scary thing, but the best part about it is that, by and large, we get to make our own decisions and take advantage of the benefits of that. One pro that I’m experiencing right now is working remotely.
Working remotely – aka from a remote location, or a location other than your usual work place – is the stuff of legend amongst freelancers and small business owners. We long for the beach and a laptop, checking our email, watching our business grow while we sip on margaritas. While this may not be an entirely accurate picture, working remotely definitely has benefits and is easier than you might think to achieve.
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I’m writing this post from a patio of a coffee shop in Nelson, British Columbia. I’ve only been here for a couple of days, but the work has been flowing steadily. Benefit one of working remotely: new inspiration. Nelson is completely different than my regular working city of Edmonton; way more laid back, the landscape is completely different, the environment completely different as well. All these changes in scenery, attitude and more are a brand new, untapped source of inspiration, and some of the best design work I’ve done has come as a result.
Benefit two of working remotely: productivity. I know it sounds backwards, but an inspired designer is a productive one. When mixing business and pleasure, you’re going to want to work efficiently so that you can get out and enjoy the sights and sounds of whatever location you’re in. For example, Nelson has some epic mountain biking and I’m an avid mountain biker. I’m staying with a friend who knows the trails inside, out and backwards, and we’re riding in the evenings. Thus, I’m working efficiently in order to complete my day’s tasks so I can go riding in the evening without anything hanging over my head.
Benefit three of working remotely: enjoying life. Broad? Yes. Vague? Perhaps. Accurate? Definitely. The majority of us work so we can enjoy life and do the things we love (although I, and I assume many of my readers, love their work too). If travelling or generally “getting away” is part of what you enjoy, then do it. This is perhaps the biggest benefit we have as freelancers, and it’s our responsibility to actually take advantage of it. It all comes around full circle: if “getting away” makes you happy, and you can still get your work done, you will be a happier, more fulfilled designer/freelancer. Ask any client whom they’d rather work with: a bitter, burnt out designer who logs 60 hour weeks and never leaves their office, or a happier, more fulfilled designer whose love of life is reflected in their design? The answer will always be the latter.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
For some people, the term “working remotely” brings about the scene I described earlier: a beach somewhere exotic, laptop in one hand and Corona in the other. However, working remotely doesn’t have to come with a $2500 all-expenses paid trip to a Mexican resort.
As I mentioned, I’m staying with a friend in Nelson. No room & board fee (other than some beer, because I’m such a nice guy ;)); no need to eat out every night. Nope, the only real expenses over and above what I normally spend on food, etc while I’m working remotely here are the gas to get to Nelson and back. Mountain biking is free (minus the initial cost of getting a bike), WiFi is free, and that’s about all I need. See what I mean? It doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg – it’s more doable than you might have realized. I’m sure all of you have a friend of some family living in a place you’d love to go visit. Drop them a line, see what they’re up to, and make sure you’re a gracious visitor while you’re there.
Finally, one last note: make sure to tell your clients that you’ll be working remotely from date X to date Y. Let them know the time of day you have designated to work, how to reach you and all that good stuff. If you’re constantly taking off to “work remotely” and your clients are always getting your voicemail, they may be wondering just what they’re paying you to do. How often you leave to work from another locale is up to you and the specifics of your business – some businesses allow for it more often than others – but communication with your clients should always be clear and honest.
It’s important to be responsible as a freelancer and/or business owner, but it’s also important to take advantage of the perks it can bring. It’s very easy to find yourself chained to your desk for 10, 12 hours a day, which is a quick path to burning out. I hope this article has shown you that working remotely can be a feasible and productive change of pace to your design lifestyle -now get out there!
psst… you might also like our article on How to Work with Long-Distance Clients.
photo by Andrea Costa