One of the perks of being a freelance writer (especially in a pedestrian/mass transit friendly place like Portland, Oregon) is the ability to work flexible hours. At the present time, I work from a home office. It can be an equitable arrangement, especially since my wife paints her pet portraits from home, too. I keep regular office hours, which provides necessary structure, with the perk of lying on my bed when I need to take a writing/editing break. But there are some down-sides, too. Specifically … noise.
I have a complex relationship with noise. On the one hand, I enjoy listening to loud rock or metal music and playing heavily distorted power chords on my guitar. On the other hand, I enjoy absolute and pristine silence. Like pin-drop silence. I feel I can think much more clearly and with greater focus in silence, particularly when I’m editing.
It can be challenging to write and edit from home in my neighborhood. My house was built during the housing boom feeding frenzy at the turn of the century (I love writing that), so there’s about six feet of space between my home and my neighbors. Barking dogs, construction noise, and oblivious neighbors can be distracting during my working hours (and occasionally when I’m trying to sleep).
So if you work from home as I do, what are some solutions if you are a freelance warrior? (Aside from noise cancelling headphones, of course.)
I suspect that nine times out of ten, the person making noise doesn’t realize you’re working from home. If you calmly and reasonably let them know that silence is a major component of your delivering quality service on-time, they will turn the noise down. If the loud person is belligerent and disrespectful, I don’t advocate using half-remembered Tae Kwon Do moves on them. But you’ll find that the law and your homeowners association is on your side.
My friend and freelance writer Princess Jones recently hosted a guest blog post (by David Sumner) about coworking. When you cowork, you work in an offsite space populated by fellow freelancers or business owners. I have not located a coworking environment in my immediate area (the Portland boondocks), and commuting 2.5 hours round-trip to a co-working space has as much appeal as working for The Man again.
You can always rent your own office space and commute there. There are often onsite perks (remote secretary, Wi-Fi, break room, fellow human beings). And yet, despite the downturn in the office space real estate market, it can be hard to find office space that has your desired square footage and budget.
Unless I find a local coworking environment that appeals to me, I’ll likely be renting office space this year. I’ve been meaning to have a separate space for awhile, but with more construction headed to my area soon, it will become difficult to stay focused. I hope to occupy a space, part-time, by the summer. Until then, I’ll remain a home office warrior.
Working from home means that I have to put up with the occasional irritating noises. I am ultimately grateful, though, to be working for myself.
Are you a freelancer who works from home? If you’re salaried, are you allowed to work from home?