The working world is changing. Once, employees worked their way up the corporate ladder, staying loyal to one company for years or even decades. These days, it’s not uncommon for people to “job-hop” every couple of years.
Another trend is that more and more people are choosing to work for themselves.
Entrepreneurs, contract workers and creative freelancers eschew the security of a regular salary for freedom from the traditional workplace. You may be one of them – or you may work for yourself one day.
The rise of the freelance economy
The global rise of a so-called freelance economy has been attributed to many things – from the economic downturn and increased online connectivity to employee dissatisfaction.
A “human cloud” or “tribe” of workers can now offer their services on demand from anywhere in the world, with no need to be chained to a desk in an official office environment.
This international trend is also evident in South Africa. In 2013, the ABSA SME Index reported that as much as 10% of the workforce was self-employed. In 2015, Absa reported that the number of self-employed individuals had risen by 6.4% year on year.
The pros and cons of working from home
For freelancers, working from home can have major advantages. These include completely avoiding traffic (simply move from your bed to your desk in the mornings), not having to wear office attire and not having anyone looking over your shoulder.
You can do things your way and in your own time. You can also work productively without common office distractions, from chatting colleagues to endless meetings.
However, there are cons too:
- working in PJs or comfy gear can start to make you feel unprofessional
- with less structure to your working day, it can be hard to determine when work ends and “downtime” begins
- being self-employed means no employee benefits – so no holiday or overtime pay, no sick leave, no annual bonuses and no company medical aid
- distractions at home may interfere with your work and create a poor impression – for instance, if your kids or dogs make a racket in the background while you’re on the phone to a client
- you may start feeling isolated and long for daily “water-cooler” chats
- your papers and so on start spilling over to the rest of your home, especially if you don’t have a separate room for an office
- clients may be unimpressed by a home address rather than an address in a recognised business location
- clients may be less trusting of your business if you meet them only in public spaces like coffee shops (or in a home living room).
Office space if you work freelance
As a freelance worker, you can overcome most of the downsides of working freelance by making use of a co-working office space. This involves having your own office space in a facility where other self-employed individuals and small businesses also have their offices – and typically, everyone shares access to resources like meeting rooms and Wi-Fi.
At XtraSpace, our Flexi Offices provide freelance workers and entrepreneurs with the best of both worlds. You retain your independence, with control over your work and hours, but you can:
- make use of a range of on-site business services, from copying to courier services
- provide clients with a business address in a sought-after, central location
- meet clients in a professionally appointing meeting room or boardroom
- enjoy the benefits of having your own office (and seeing other friendly faces) without having to sign a long lease or invest in setting up office infrastructure.
In addition to our Flexi Offices, our Virtual Flexi Offices (available at our Melrose Arch and Sunninghill branches) offer fully equipped, furnished offices, free internet and a reception service for a certain number of hours per month.