Escaping the Office Or: I’ve Made A Huge Mistake

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on October 17, 2012 in Freelance Writing Business
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By: Joshua Danton Boyd

As a freelancer, chances are you don’t work from an office. Well, not in a company office anyway. You might call your unkempt desk in the corner of your bedroom an “office”, but let’s face it, it’s not. There’s no dress code, no forced awkward conversations with people you’d be glad to never see again, and the only person’s food you have to smell is your own. You’re completely free to go and get your work done wherever you please and shun office politics to the distant past. So, what are some of your options?

The Cafe

Ah! Safe, friendly cafe. Big, comfy sofas with oversized cushions. Coffee and food always available. Heating that you don’t have to pay a penny for. There are many reasons why freelancers flock to cafes to get their work done. To certain people they can even be inspirational as they watch the world flicker past outside. It’s sort of like those French movies where people stare wistfully out of windows and write flowery letters to their lovers fighting a war in a foreign land. Ah! Now this is why you became a writer!

That’s until a child begins making a noise more hellish than fives foxes having a knife fight and the waiter spills coffee all over your notes/laptop/face. Suddenly the idyllic farce collapses and you realised you’re in an over-priced, noisy room with total strangers who have no regard for your comfort. It’s pretty much like work, except at work you got free coffee. The child is screaming still and your face is sticky and burnt. It seems like this cafe was the wrong choice, only for you to discover that most of them are like this. Even when you’re lucky to find somewhere suitable, it won’t be long before the hordes discover it too.

The Library

You’ve got to be onto a winner here. There’s a chance your library doesn’t sell coffee, but at least everyone has to be quiet. You’ll have no trouble concentrating, so you’ll be able to knuckle down and get some proper work done. On top of that, you’ll often be allowed to use a spare plug socket which some cafes can be quite tetchy about. You’ve even got a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. Sometimes it’s nice to eschew Wikipedia and re-live your primary school days of thumbing through an actual book to do some research.

Then the students come and suddenly it’s impossible to find a seat. They all just get in the way learning, while you’re there to actually get something done. In the meantime, you notice that even libraries aren’t safe from baby human/fox hybrids as parents trundle their prams in to get some kids books. Your peaceful haven has once again been invaded with an orchestra of typing, crying and increasingly obnoxious shushing. The final straw is a paper cut from a book you picked out, the internet never cut you before.

The Co-Working Space


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What could possibly go wrong here? Everyone else is pretty much the same as you. They need some peace and quiet to get there head down and work as do you. There’s no chance of babies breaking eardrums here unless someone happened to give birth there and then. You’ve got access to a fridge and a kettle, so you can keep costs down by bringing along your own food, while you get to chat with like-minded people. You could be really lucky and end up finding some work through contacts gained at the space. Perfect!

Well, nearly. It’ll soon dawn on you that just because the other people are freelancers, doesn’t mean they won’t irritate you. A co-working space might have a more creative vibe, but that doesn’t mean the sink won’t get filled up with cups in ten minutes or that the whole place won’t be stunk out with someone’s reheated cabbage soup. Then of course there’s those people who think everyone else wants to know about their super-cool project they’re working on for a client they can’t name, but who is really, really, big guys. They’re the worst.

The Zoo

Okay, you might struggle to get wifi at a zoo, but think of the benefits. The list is pretty much endless. Apes jumping around cages and beating each other up, lions lolling about in the sun and talking parrots insulting you with vigour. Why would you ever want to work somewhere else again?

About the Author

Joshua Danton Boyd is a copywriter for Crunch accounting and a regular contributor to Freelance Advisor. You can find more of Josh's posts or connect with him on Google+.

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9 Comments

  1. Amandah October 18, 2012 Reply

    I tried the library a few times, but it was too noisy for me. We’re supposed to have a new library built by 2013. I’m hoping it will be bigger and quieter.

    • Joshua Danton Boyd October 19, 2012 Reply

      The library nearest me is pretty terrible. The downstairs is far too busy to concentrate and the upstairs is always inhabited with students, who admittedly can be quiet sometimes. Unfortunately, the way the building is built is that all the noise from downstairs floats up. Absolute nightmare!

  2. Lori October 18, 2012 Reply

    Josh, this is hilarious! And so true. I’ve tried the library — the noise was almost maddening (in a LIBRARY!); the coffee house (WiFi was slow and someone else’s firewall kept blocking me from Bing and Google); Panera (two outlets, 15 people, some of them even bathed); the park (no WiFi, but great privacy); Burger King (and I’m a vegetarian); a friend’s house (she simply would not shut up); home.

    Yep. Home was the best option. Besides, they stock my favorite tea here. :)

    • Jennifer Mattern October 18, 2012 Reply

      Same for me. I can never focus in coffee shops, the library, or someone else’s place. I have to be at home, in my office, and usually with the door closed to see any semblance of productivity.

      • Joshua Danton Boyd October 19, 2012 Reply

        I’ve also tried working at a friend’s. At first it’s good, but you can so easily get distracted. Especially if your friend is bored.

    • Joshua Danton Boyd October 19, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Lori!

      I have managed to find a couple of cafes that are suitable sometimes, but you can never really tell. One day it’ll be empty and quiet and another it’ll be impossible to get a seat.

  3. Anne Wayman October 18, 2012 Reply

    I’ve never understood why at least one of my writer friends likes to work in a coffee shop and she makes her calls from there. The background noise on her phone drove me mad. So I identify completely… and have my own office which is only bothered by my cats.

    Another place I occasionally get some writing done is the train… Amtrak has wireless that works and plugs and if the train isn’t crowded it can work like a charm… except for the scenery of course.

    • Joshua Danton Boyd October 19, 2012 Reply

      I’ve managed to get quite a bit of work done on trains. The journey from Brighton back to my hometown takes nearly 4 hours. Unfortunately, there are only plugs for the last hour of the journey and no WiFi throughout.

  4. Devon Ellington October 19, 2012 Reply

    The libraries around here are pretty good, and I know the quiestest hours at each, so I can move.

    I’ve done quite a bit of work at zoos — the inhabitants are far more civilized than those who hang out at coffee shops.

    I love long train rides — get a lot of work done there.

    I don’t take my laptop, but I’ll take a notebook and work on the beach (off-season) or in the Audubon Sanctuaries. I can get a LOT done there.

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