today’s question: “do you ever get lonely working from home? what do you do when you need to bounce an idea off someone?”

i’ve always been in an office environment so i can’t speak from experience, but i have a ton of friends that are on their own. my friend julia works from home and skypes with her friends in chicago all day. they just leave it up and will holler if they need to talk to someone. i bet that kicks any of the lonely feelings. i have other friends that rent desk space at studiomates in brooklyn. my friend jonnie just wrote about being in a co-working space there and how it’s given him a ton of new connections and jobs he wouldn’t have had if he was at home (the article also includes some fantastic freelance advice!). renting a studio space as a freelancer starting out feels like a luxury to me, but high-five to jonnie for taking the leap. i would work from home one or two years until this became necessary/possible.

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lets pretend i do work at home. i would probably plan days to work at a friends house to get my interaction needs covered. I also think just taking the occasional lunch break with a friend to talk out ideas over tacos would work well for me. but! part of me thinks I’d enjoy the quiet. i love working in an office but it’s social hour all day long. you’re always interacting with someone. i find it hard to get work done sometimes. don’t get me wrong, i’m a social butterfly and i love to chit chat, but there are days i have to plug in my headphones to get any work done. the grass is always greener right?

i have worked at a 9-5 job in a cubicle, at home all by myself, and in a shared creative space with a bunch of freelancers. there was a time when i was at home everyday working…in silence…and it drove me crazy. i couldn’t stand being in the house so much, always in my pajamas, and no one to chat with on my “breaks.” one day i took a walk with brian from shark pig and we decided to look for a space with some friends. we ended up finding a loft space in atwater village (we are shooting our office makeover this weekend!) the rent would only be $250 per person (which is cheap for LA!), it was 5 minutes from my house and finally i would have some creative energy around me. it was the best thing i could have ever done. i have met so many people from being there, we have happy hours together, and i’m able to stay motivated by being around a group of hard-working folks.

there are some weeks where i only go in 2-3 days a week because i do still enjoy working in silence on certain busy days…but the option of going in to the office is awesome. the space is a tax write-off and more importantly i feel like i can truly separate my work with my home life now. it’s also made me excited to come home and see arian after a full day at the office (it can be hard working in a home with your guy, you gotta have some time to miss one another!). it was also important for me to have a space for my employees to be able to spread out and focus. arian walks around in his boxers and that isn’t really a professional work environment!

when i was working at home alone i would definitely take walks, go to brunch with fellow freelance friends, and work from the coffee shop a couple days a week so i could get in some good people watching while i worked. my vote is for a shared space if you are able to make that work!

(illustration by katie evans. read more freelance advice posts are over here!)


Add your own

    Allie says:

    Hi! That about answers the question I posted in the previous advice post. Thanks for that! Although one little problem, for me personally. All my friends either have an office job or are freelancing in a field that is not as creative :p I have one colleague from my previous job I can talk too, but he’s a product designer (not a graphic designer like me). It can be pretty hard sometimes to not get feedback (apart from the client). A shared space is not an option for me moneywise. Do you guys have some online alternatives to discuss work & creativity? Thanks!

    Rebecca says:

    ^Sounds like a good business idea Allie!

    Ana says:

    Excited to see your new office space! Just browsed the pictures over at AT.
    I wish I also had a chance for shared workspace. Staying all day at home can be so exhausting. And you are dressing up the first 3 days, but the rest of the week you stay in your pyjamas.

    alicia says:

    I’ve heard a lot of creatives recently saying that you should surround yourself with other creative people that inspire you, that way things will come to you so much easier and all the creative juices will get flowing. I couldn’t agree more and I feel like it applies to working too. I’m currently working full time but I’ve done the lonely-freelance-at-home too and it drove me crazy. I think when I go freelance again I would LOVE to have a shared space with a few other creatives. It sounds pretty perfect to me. How EXCITING would that be?! Just like Bri I would love the option of working from home on a few busy days when I just need quite with no interruptions but also have the option of going into the office and socializing and not being so lonely!
    I also just made a tiny post about feeling less alone in a big silent room at home, check it out

    Laina says:

    Man, oh man does this advice post speak to me! I’ve been freelancing for almost three years and the isolation has finally reached it’s limit. I recently moved to the amazing East Side of LA (LOVE Echo Park!) and found an amazing live/work loft, which I knew would be perfect for me and my freelance career. While my space is amazing, being alone the majority of the day is really weighing on me. I live and work on my own and have found that the lack of interaction with other human beings is killing my motivation. I’ve gone the coffe shop route, but it doesn’t really work in terms of collaboration or inspiration… not to mention the amount of money I spend on cappuccinos I rarely want.

    I’ve looked into shared workspaces and collaborative communities and am preparing to make the leap. I love what DLF, shark pig, and the rest of their loft-mates put together and would love to create or join something similar. If anyone has recommendations for a creative shared space in the area, please share the love!

    Sarah says:

    I work from home, but my situationis a bit unusual. My almost 3 yr old daughter is with me, and I just work part time (about 3 hrs a day) on Tues-Thurs, and have a babysitter in our home on Monday and Friday. I actually really enjoy the rare times when I have the house completely to myself. I feel like it’s so much easier to focus. My husband is also a creative, so I often bounce ideas off of him in the evening (and he’s such a trooper for always listening). I sometimes work in coffee shops just so I can be around other adults, and I try to stay in close touch with my creative friends through ichat, skype, etc. At some point I may find it necessary to move my workspace out of the home, but for now it’s working out pretty well.

    I wanted to share a mother’s perspective on this in case anyone has the same struggles while also being a work-from-home mom! I love being able to play with my kids and get work done, but it definitely is stressful at times and I need my time with other adults before my husband gets home from work. I will often have friends come over and we will set up a workspace from home, sometimes on our back deck if the weather is nice. I think a change of environment is really important. Like Bri said, sometimes this is not the best working environment for a busy day, (boxers vs. babies) but it is important to have balance between busy days and relaxing fun work days. Both types of days I get work done, and so do other entrepreneurs/freelancers who come over.

    If you don’t know other entrepreneurs in your area, think of a stay at home mom you may know. Invite them over for a cup o joe or whatever it is that floats your boat. They would LOVE the company and not mind at all if you are on your computer while being surrounded by others. You can bounce ideas off of them, and also get their creativity moving again. There is also something about being around kids that gets your creative brain moving in a new direction. ASK THE KIDS for their opinion. It may not be the answer you are looking for, but it could put an entirely new spin of innovation on the idea. 🙂

    I am a freelancer who mostly works at home alone, and so I really enjoyed this post. I think I’ve reached the place where a shared workspace is probably the best answer for me- I really need to be around other people during the day and get out of the house to feed my creativity. Great post!

    Yari says:

    Thanks for posting this! I really needed this advice.. I am an army wife and we just moved to our new duty station so I am starting from scratch. The only one I have to bounce ideas off is my husband and discussing decorating/design ideas with an army guy can be really frustrating! ^_^

    Jill says:

    I’ve been working freelance from home for about 8 years now, and it feeds my natural hermit tendencies. I’m able to get twice as much done than when I was in an office. (Probably because I was WAY too social and gossipy.) I have a designer friend who I’ll run work by, so I can get that out of my system. But I do love the idea of a live-time, online space to share ideas and get fast feedback. Get on it, Allie!

    Allie says:

    I have another advice related question, I’m putting it here, ’cause I don’t know where else better to write it down 😉
    What do you do when you are designing a logo with just typographic elements, so no illustrations are involved. How do you sell this to your client, because I think they would think “so you threw 2 fonts together and I’m paying a lot of money for that?”
    Thank you !

    Rebecca says:

    There’s a great book called Logo Design Love that you should check out. He mentions how to present your work to clients even if it’s just type. It’s great and your local library probably has it but it’s also on Amazon.

    Allie says:

    Thanks Rebecca !

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