With the rise of freelancing, it seems like self-employment makes the news every week. Last week, the freelancing headline was “One can be the loneliest number”. The article was based on a recent survey by Epson EcoTank of 1000 freelancers on the pros and cons. Potential loneliness is certainly something to consider as a freelancer, so let’s take an honest look at the isolation factor.
What do the figures say?
In the study, 48% of freelancers reported finding the lifestyle “lonely” and 46% “isolating”. Likewise, 32% missed “office banter” and 29% “being part of a team”. On the upside, 54% found it “liberating”. Reasons for becoming a freelancer included work/life balance (53%), more flexibility (62%), and avoiding “stressful” office work (47%). Out of the 1000 freelancers, 91% worked from home “at least some of the time”.
What does this mean?
Although such studies are limited in scope, the results show the positives of flexibility and work/life balance alongside the negatives of loneliness and isolation. While “getting lonely” might seem relatively minor, research indicates that loneliness and isolation can lead to depression and other mental health issues. As humans, we need social contact for our wellbeing and survival, so avoiding loneliness and isolation is essential.
Is freelancing lonely?
Anecdotally, most freelancers will admit that it’s easy to become isolated as a freelancer—whether it’s from working long or unusual hours, neglecting their social life, or just not needing to leave the house. If you live alone, freelancing can be particularly isolating, but it can get lonely even if you live with people—especially if your loved ones work shifts or long hours. I can vouch for this.
However, freelancing doesn’t have to be lonely—it just means you need to make an extra effort to stay social. The good news is that as a freelancer, you’re in control of your own hours and working environment, so you can manage these aspects to avoid becoming lonely and isolated.
How do you avoid becoming isolated?
As a freelancer, you need to have social interaction every day if possible. This might mean working from a freelancing hub, which is basically a workplace for freelancers. These are popping up in most major cities, and help you find that “team” atmosphere and office banter without having colleagues. It might be working from libraries, coffee shops, or even the park (weather-permitting).
If you do decide to work from home, ensure you go out every day—whether it’s going for a walk, arranging to meet a friend, or attending an exercise class. Regularly plan social activities with friends and family, such as meals, days out, the cinema, etc. You can also adjust your working days to mirror your loved ones’ shift patterns, which means you can maximise the time you spend with them.
If you have no network
If it’s the “team” aspect you’re missing as a freelancer, try building a freelance network. Look for meetup groups and networking opportunities in your local area. Make connections with other freelancers. If there aren’t any, then you can even set one up yourself. For example, I created the “Birmingham Freelancers Meetup” to build a freelance network. This can offer vital support and social interaction.
Have you got any tips you use to avoid isolation? Comment below or get in touch. Stay tuned to the blog for more guidance on freelancing and building the ideal freelance life.