With flexible working on the rise, more of us are working from home or juggling multiple jobs or careers at the same time. The working culture as we see it is changing and evolving every day. More and more of us are choosing to work from home, which allows us greater flexibility and control over other aspects of our lives such as childcare and family commitments, or to fulfil other passions that we have in our life.
The number of UK start-ups are continuing to increase at a rapid rate. Last year nearly 660,000 companies were established according to think tank Centre for Entrepreneurs. Some of these SMEs operate a ‘virtual agency’, which is where experts are pulled in to deliver work. This means businesses or agencies, such as my own, employ a range of clients with varying skills such as copywriters, graphic designers and SEO consultants, who work collaboratively to deliver the project for the client. This gives agencies the opportunity to work with skilled individuals with particular specialisms but without the heavy costs of employing full time professionals when they may not always be fully occupied. By using a ‘virtual agency model’ my clients only pay for the resources they use which really helps me when it comes to pitching for new business with my clients.
I’ve been running my own business for over 3 years now, so you could say I’ve become pretty accustomed to working flexibly, managing my own time and all the other elements (good and bad) that come with ‘being your own boss’. But it’s fair to say that the prospect of managing my own workload, reaching out to clients and having to stay engaged and motivated can sometimes be challenging.
Over the years, I’ve been used to people saying ‘how do you do it?’ and ‘isn’t it hard working alone?’, or ‘how do you stay motivated?’ Of course, working for yourself can come with additional challenges and demands, but there are many sole traders, freelancers, SMEs and limited companies that are not only surviving, but truly thriving, despite these difficulties.
One element that is important and definitely shouldn’t be neglected is personal well-being. Working from home often means you’re having less social interaction, which can impact other areas of work. Luckily, as a consultant, I spend a considerable amount of time at other client’s offices, which means I’m able to get a regular dose of engagement.
A couple of months ago I started renting a desk from another organisation, which has worked really well for me. Working from home can be isolating, and as a sociable person, I occasionally struggled with not having people to interact with throughout the day. If I had a problem or needed advice, for example, I couldn’t turn to the person next to me and I found it quite frustrating sometimes.
I decided it was time to seek a shared work space, and to create a clear divide of ‘work’ and ‘home’ life. I researched places near my home and was lucky to find an office through a Facebook group for local freelancers in Milton Keynes. My colleague runs a business and has scaled it up really well (due to growth, we’re now looking at our third office) so it’s nice to finally feel part of a team.
We’re having a joint Christmas party this year, which is a real novelty for me. And my colleague brings in her dog Felix, which again, changes the environment entirely and makes it feel more homely and welcoming.
By coming in to the office every day, I feel that I’m more focused and productive – my mindset is firmly on work (and at home I can focus on home, having left work in the office). My colleague and I regularly set challenges for each other and hold the other to account – which has helped us achieve our business development goals. In addition to this, I’ve been able to meet other businesses who may be able to provide work or support with my own social media and marketing services.