Freelancer Working Remotely – Business as Usual, Right?
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
For the past 14 months I have been working as a freelancer and as a result I have had plenty of time to adapt to home working. Before that, I spent several years moving around numerous offices and departments hot-desking in various organisations as they continually evolved and changed. I have learned to travel light and to adapt quickly! So, in the face of this Coronavirus pandemic and with all this experience you would think it would be second nature for me to maintain a routine of remote working and social distancing?
Well yes and no.
Yes, I have set myself up to digitally work from home and I have an established work-space organised. I have put in place routines and disciplines to help me keep on track with my business plan and I have read plenty of articles about keeping on top of personal well-being whilst working remotely. On my laptops I have an abundance of software and apps for any planned webinars and video calls. I have all my work files 'Cloud-hosted' ready to go and backed up. But the key thing here is whilst I do work from home, I never planned to be socially isolating. I certainly never planned to be doing it full time. To have flexible working was always a top ambition. Having the ability to work remotely was a great option. However, all these things were put in place for when it proved impractical, either due to distance, timing or availability, to meet clients face to face and where it was much more time and cost-efficient to ‘meet’ online. My aim has always been to meet with customers face to face and my home office was a ‘Plan B’ scenario. But now many people are faced with remote working and somehow this is all different, it is very different indeed and it seems that things may never be the same again.
Not so long ago a normal day for me would see me out and about doing face to face meetings and calls with clients, possibly going to networking events or maybe sitting in a co-working space. This 'new' remote working is very far from business as usual. Certainly, social distancing is new territory, even for me as an experienced remote worker.
Today, like most marketers and non-keyworkers, I am working from home. Something I have done numerous times before but today it has a completely different feel. This morning it was eerily quiet, a strange stillness in the air and it reminded me of when I once stood on a deserted beach on the West Coast of Ireland. No-one around. Very little sound and a curious quietness that allowed my thoughts just to wander. I switched my thoughts right back to now. For a moment I imagined the great turbulence happening in hospitals and emergency services today and speculate where will this all end?
The truth is no one knows.
I go back to my project lists to look for some degree of normality. But again, this looks very different, this is not normal. We have no idea of what is normal anymore, or what normal will mean in the future. And then it dawns on me that it’s not just the great outdoors that feels so different, it’s not just my list of projects that feel so different, it’s that the whole world feels different.
Back to my business and I realise that I have little idea of where this will all end up. In terms of my focus there are few new calls, yet fewer meetings and even less rushing to set up for the latest video calls. Businesses are diligently prioritising and rapidly putting their contingency plans into action. People everywhere are being completely disrupted with an unprecedented rate of change in both their social and business life.
The one thing that I do know is that I will continue with my plans.
They may well need adapting but the one thing I am sure of is that we all need to continue collaborating with our customers and each other.
So, whilst businesses continue to battle with the unknown and set up remote working for those employees who need to self-isolate or socially distance themselves, one thing is for certain and that is that communication is more important than ever. I have re-discovered and remembered the importance of all the communities and social groups that I am a part of. As an independent marketing freelancer and a remote worker, I have reflected on how many communities I belong to. Naturally my first port of call is my fantastic family, there’s also my great extended family and then there’s also my wonderful friends. I consider myself to be truly privileged.
We all spend a lot of time at work and suddenly and through my business I realise how many people I connect with every day. The small, medium and large companies, the net-workers; the start-up entrepreneurs; freelancers; marketers; digital gurus; previous colleagues (who have since become friends); agencies and suppliers and the list goes on……... Reflecting on this list I find my thoughts darting back on all the news updates, the people affected by this outbreak and those that yet may be affected in the future.
It is a very difficult time for all.
All this change has created a wealth of media coverage and articles giving helpful advice. Here is a guide that you may wish to have a quick read: Coronavirus: Five ways to work well from home: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51868894. It is a simple guide offering sensible advice. A quick search web search will bring up plenty of other articles too. I have found it useful to draw on different skills and I limit the amount of time I spend on the news sites. This gives time out for other thoughts – and hence this posting. I felt I needed to get some thoughts down on ‘paper ‘and I hope that others facing the same circumstances find it of interest.
So now what is my plan, what action will I be taking in these turbulent times? Like many I will be social distancing and I will be following up on point 4 in the ‘Five ways to work’ article. It’s the “Pick up the phone” action. I will be making sure I stay in touch with all those important groups that are have become an integral part of my everyday life. There is something else which I felt compelled to do. I joined as a volunteer in my local community. It is a local group communicating in WhatsApp and Facebook Chats to support those who are more vulnerable and may need greater support from the community. Whilst my business is vitally important and I should continue with my plans, it also feels that it is a time to look to your local community.
Being part of my family community, being part of the business community, being part of the local community. Its all about collaborating and communicating. In these unprecedented times keep safe, do the best you can do and most importantly don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.