Working from home is often regarded as being the single greatest perk of freelancing. No commuting, no need to get dressed up or shave, and no need to brave the elements. Working from home means being able come and go as you please, and look as dowdy and scruffy as you fancy.
Pretty sweet, huh?
However, anyone who has ever worked from their residence will reiterate how, once the novelty of working from home wears off, endeavouring to earn an income from the confines of a domestic property rarely turns out to be as straightforward as first imagined. This is because distractions and irritations of every kind abound in the average 21st century home. Indeed, everything from well-meaning children and well-annoying cold-callers to ever-noisy appliances and ever-present street noise (in league with dozens of other things) conspire to make the modern home environment anything but a peaceful and productive retreat.
Needless to say, some areas of the home lend themselves better to working in than others. Unfortunately, it normally takes quite a bit of trial and error to determine which parts of a house feel conducive to income generation and which don’t.
Below is a completely unscientific assessment of some of the most commonly espoused home office runners and riders...
#3 The Kitchen
With its light, airy surroundings, table and chair included as standard, and kettle and fridge not two feet away, the kitchen seems like pretty good home office material from the outset. But look beyond these initial pluses and things appear very different indeed. The rumble of a washing machine and the hum of a fridge/freezer can deliver brain-penetrating white noise-type effects in a surprisingly short time, while the proximity to the hallway means chiming doorbells, clattering letterboxes and ringing landlines are constant companions. Furthermore, the kitchen’s reputation as the ’heart of the home’ ensures it is always a place of to-ing and fro-ing whenever other people (or pets) are at home.
Kitchens can be good places to work at times; it’s just that these times tend to be relatively few and far between. Prone to distractions and proximal to too many potential irritations, the kitchen trundles in in third place on this list.
#2 The Spare Room
A spare room is frequently seen as the de facto ’best’ option when it comes to setting up a work-specific place to work from home in. There is good reason for this: throw in a desk and chair and even the most modest of spare rooms can quickly be made to look and feel like a comfortable home office. However, there are a few drawbacks to consider here, too. For instance, many home offices based in spare rooms don’t enjoy full ’designated work area’ status, thus they are forced to become things like second bedrooms, laundry rooms and storage rooms whenever the need arises. Moreover, it is customary for residents to have their bedrooms at the more peaceful, back end of a property ergo most spare rooms tend to be located at the front of a house where distracting street noise can be an issue.
While a peaceful spare room with full ’designated working area’ status can be a great place to work, a half-and-half function room with perennial noise issues can have detrimental effects on productivity. Can go either way, but still normally a better option than the kitchen.
#1 The Garden Office
Any freelancer who is fortunate enough to have a large-ish garden should definitely entertain the notion of investing in a garden office. The great thing about these home office options is that, even though they are located on their property, they enable residents to maintain a distinct physical boundary between their work and home life. The noise and distractions that are part-and-parcel of domestic living remain in and around the home while work-related business – and ONLY work-related business – exists in the garden office. The only real drawback to garden offices is that less expensive variants (i.e. pimped-up summer houses) are likely to get chilly in the winter, although this can often be minimised by adding a little insulation and investing in a cheap little electric heater.
With peace and quiet pretty much guaranteed and distractions of all kinds kept reassuringly at a good arm’s length, the garden office is the best home office option by far. The fact that there are now garden offices available to suit all budgets means even freelancers with modest incomes can enjoy working ’away’ from home.
And the area to avoid at all costs: The Bedroom
Let’s be honest; there’s something really satisfying about lying in bed, tapping away at the old netbook while everyone else in the Rat Race is fighting traffic on a congested motorway or packed like sardines into an overcrowded train carriage. Staying in a nice, cosy bed under a still-warm cosy duvet feels like a right treat in the wintertime too. The thing is though, the best thing about working in the bedroom is also the worst thing: having a bed in the office does nothing but encourage freelancers to take it easy; to take a load off and just ’have ten minutes’ whenever a wave of lethargy comes along. Sure, there’s always the option of hooking the netbook up to the bedroom TV and sitting in a chair rather than lying down, but the fact remains that the bed remains in the room like, well, like an elephant in the room.
Freelancers with exceptional sleeping routines and bags of self-discipline may find the bedroom to be a conducive place to work for a few hours in the morning perhaps; everyone else would be advised to steer well clear though...
What do you reckon, homeworkers, is this list accurate? Do you actually prefer working in the kitchen rather than the spare room? Does going out to work in a garden office sound a lot like commuting? Tell us what you think – and your preferred room to work in – by sharing your thoughts in the box below...