Back in 2014, Freelancers Union surveyed professionals nationwide to discover that 34 percent of the US workforce were freelancers. In a recent study by the same organization, freelancers are expected to become the majority of the workforce by 2027, based on the steady growth in recent years. You can read more about the findings in this October 2017 Upwork article.
As the workforce changes, the traditional office setting is evolving into a more nomadic lifestyle as people begin to spend a majority of their time working from home or taking up residency at a local coffee shop or co-working space. If you google “coworking space okc,” there are at least six different locations that have popped up in Oklahoma City in the past couple of years.
I began my own freelancing adventure almost a year ago, and my home office currently consists of my kitchen table and my laptop. Although sometimes you can find me at the local coffee shop or the downtown library. There should be a saying, “Have a laptop and noise-canceling headphones. Will travel.”
While I am just beginning my freelancing journey, I do spend a majority of my time working at home. For me, it’s essential that the space be clutter-free, comfortable, and quiet. Working from home allows me the most control over my environment to get down to business. Someday, when I’m ready to move my side hustle from the kitchen table and into an actual home office space, these are some of my must-haves to really get my creative juices flowing:
- Must have a door. This is probably an obvious requirement for many reasons such as privacy, noise and distraction reduction. Luckily, I do have two spare bedrooms that aren’t being used for much of anything, so finding a space with a door isn’t a problem.
- A window for daydreaming. I freelance content for websites, blogs, and social media. This requires a lot of focus and concentration. But it also includes a fair amount of time for me to stare out into space as I’m trying to work out the next sentence or message in my head. I like the idea of a window that overlooks into a green area. I saw an example of a web designer’s home workspace and their desk was situated in front of a window with a view of a beautiful leafy bush. That sounds like a perfect place to inspire many creative thoughts without the distraction of looking onto a busy street.
- Comfy-but-not-too-comfy desk chair. Let’s be honest, after a few hours of sitting on a kitchen chair, I’m ready to call it a day. It is not comfortable. My future home office space must have a comfy and ergonomic office chair with a comfy cushion and sturdy back support. But not too comfy to where I can just sink in and take a nap. It needs to be able to keep me focused and productive. In the meantime, I could upgrade my kitchen chair with seat cushions and back support cushions that are relatively inexpensive.
- Double monitors. It’s hard to design on just a laptop screen or even when I’m doing research for an article and have to flip back and forth between multiple tabs. I so wish I had more than just this 17” screen to stare at for hours. It’s a total eye strain. I was recently introduced to the concept of a portable monitor. They are usually around the size of a laptop screen and can easily fit into a backpack or laptop bag. I love the fact that it’s a space saver and on days when I decide to venture out of the house to work, I don’t have to give up any screen space.
- Inspiration designs. I want my space to inspire me from the moment I walk in. I would want it to be my creative oasis. Green is said to help contribute to productivity, so painting the walls a nice soothing green might not be a bad idea. Afterwards, I would fill the walls with images and quotes that inspire me and give me the confidence that what I’m writing isn’t complete crap. I think just having that alone in a work area would definitely help to motivate me. Some of these quotes would be perfect to frame and hang.
- Notepad and writing tools. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of researching info for one social media post or article, and something will come into my mind for future content. Having a dedicated notepad to write this down quickly will save me so much time and keep me on my current track of thought. Usually I switch over to a “notes” doc and quickly record my idea and then switch back to where I left off. In reality, a pen and paper would be a more efficient way to hold onto that thought without disconnecting to where I was.
- A space for my phone. So many times I stop what I’m doing because I see a notification on my phone. Next thing I know, I’ve spent 20 minutes looking at Twitter and totally forget what I was working on. In my future home office, my phone will not have a space on my desk but somewhere else out of site.
- Reading chair. I’m often in the habit of buying books that tailor to creative writing, digital marketing or web design and they often end up on a shelf never read. In my future home office, I’d like to set up a little reading area with a comfy chair to encourage me to set aside time to actually start reading those books. This area can also serve as a useful “brain break” when I’m working hard but have reached a wall in my productivity.
- Keyboard comfort. The way my current office workspace and kitchen table “home office” is set up, it often leaves me with wrists that ache and arms that have fallen asleep. I have glasses but don’t usually wear them, meaning I have to pull my laptop up close leaving my arms and wrist in a crunched position for hours. Raising my laptop up, using a chair with arms, and investing in wrist pads, can all aid in reducing the strain to my wrists. Pushing back my laptop, using a dual monitor with a larger screen and wearing my glasses could probably work wonders as well.
Having a home office doesn’t require a lot of fancy high tech equipment, at least not for my purposes. Things like a desk, an office chair, and a reading chair can easily be picked up at the local Goodwill or garage sale. All I really need is a decluttered and quiet space that inspires creative thinking and keeps me motivated.