Why Working From Home Makes all the Difference
If pursuing a side-gig has been on your mind for a while, the biggest obstacle you'll likely face is finding the time to do it.
I've always enjoyed having something on the side. Even in school I had side projects, and for most of my working life, there's always been something else to turn my mind to in my down time.
These days, the thought of commuting for two hours a day to live inside a cubicle under fluorescent lighting fills me with dread. I honestly couldn't think of anything worse. Proctology, perhaps.
So many years ago, I negotiated a deal with my employer. In exchange for the freedom to work from home, I would commit to a minimum number of hours each week for a fixed income. If a particular project demanded it, I'd work more than the minimum for no extra pay. Sometimes a lot more. So far, it's been ideal for both of us.
Why my Employer Agreed
There were three compelling reasons for my boss to agree to this arrangement.
First, I'd proven over an extended period that I could be trusted to deliver the required output without supervision. Second, the nature of my work (mostly computer-based) meant productivity could be achieved from anywhere with a powerpoint and a reliable Internet connection. And third, my departure from the office freed up a desk, plus a range of overheads associated with housing a traditional employee.
Add to this the fact that I've always been happy to work very early or very late whenever a task dictated the need.
The benefit to me (apart from not having to shave, being able to wear what I like and playing loud music), is agency over my schedule. I have autonomy. This, to me, is priceless. It means I can work when I'm most productive, in an environment that supports deep work, and I can schedule it around other ambitions. It also means I can develop new skills and insights that augment my regular work as well as the side gigs I choose to pursue.
A report issued last year by the Australian Industry Group said:
“A recent study by recruitment firm Hays revealed that 55 per cent of Australians would take a 20 per cent salary cut in order to work from home. A further 22 per cent would sacrifice 10 per cent of annual income in return for flexible working arrangements. Airtasker’s 2015 survey of the future of work revealed that 85 per cent of Australians believe that the traditional 9 to 5 office hours are inflexible for both present and future workers.”
“With the advance of digital freelance marketplaces, high-speed internet and high-powered mobile computing tools, the complete autonomy that accompanies freelance work is more attainable than ever. As more people realise the benefits of working independently, the freelance economy will continue to influence the workforce and in turn, the economy.”
Why Working from Home will Change your Life
The industrial revolution (and the schooling system that supports it) was designed for one thing – to support mass production. Children were (and still are) pumped through a system where they were made to sit in rows, to conform to standardised systems and to avoid failure at all costs. In today's connection economy, this no longer services. Those who get on and change the world, who advance the human race, are creative and unique by nature. They don't fit inside boxes.
You might say that's fine for artists and entrepreneurs, and those with a rebellious streak, but it doesn't conform to reality. And in saying that, you'd be wrong. Great ideas and impassioned discoveries don't emanate from committees or Powerpoint presentations to rooms full of bored individuals whose only incentive is to keep their job.
Innovation comes from people who are given sufficient latitude to try new things and fail occasionally. They come from those with the audacity to say, “Let's try this.”
But getting onto why working from home is so powerful for you as a productive contributor, it essentially comes down to this. You have a unique combination of skills, talents and passions that have probably been stifled for years. Perhaps decades, even. Working in a highly structured environment knocks the tops and bottoms off your creative heartbeat, and in medical parlance, that's a flatline. Death.
Working in an environment where your creative energy is deployed at optimal potency delivers better results for everyone – including the boss who's dominant thought is (or should be) serving those who bring in the revenue – the customers.
Now before you say it, I know many jobs don't lend themselves to this kind of arrangement. But thousands do. And as time and technology march on, more of them will come into the fold. We've already had access to email for about 35 years, and collaboration apps, video calls and other cloud-based tools have given millions of people geographic freedom, too.
How to Convince your Boss
If you're fortunate to be in a role that's predominantly computer-based or a large chunk of you responsibility involves serving clients out on-site, you're a ripe candidate for home-based work. In fact, estimates suggest as many as 40% of the current workforce will move to the gig economy by the year 2020.
I've always subscribed to evidence-based selling over hypotheses, so my suggestion to you is this. Offer your boss a well-structured proposal as an experiment.
Outline what it is you'd like to do for a fixed period of say, a few weeks. Offer to try working from home for just one day a week for a month. Set out when you plan to be available, and by what means. Commit to demonstrating how much more productive you'll be once commuting and distractions are eliminated from your routine. Define specific tasks you'll perform and what he or she can expect from you in terms of your output. Agree, too, that if the results aren't clearly evident, you'll abandon the idea.
But also propose that if your experiment does prove successful, you'll agree to extend the terms of your agreement to include more days working this way. Over time, if you've applied yourself diligently and honestly, the results will support your proposal, and both of you will benefit.
How it has Worked for Me
I've worked from my home office for years, now. I honestly couldn't imagine working any other way. I usually rise at 6:00 am, and within half an hour, I'm at work. I love it.
Most days, I'll work on a side project for the first hour or so before I attack my number one item on the task list for my employer. This freedom; this autonomy motivates me to go above and beyond what I'd do if I'd just battled traffic for an hour. I'm fresh, I'm happy and I'm ready to produce.
Moreover, the other projects I engage with outside of my regular job bring additional learning, experience and perspective to all of my work, so my employer benefits from this, too. They get all the upside of a more knowledgeable worker and I get to build additional sources of revenue for me and my family.
It's amazing how much more productive you are in your day job when it's not your only source of income. You do it because you want to do it, not because you're shit-scared of being fired.
There are valuable skills I've learned and insights I've acquired from this arrangement because of the flexibility it affords me. I've worked with some really innovative and exciting companies doing projects that augment everything else I do. And best of all, I feel that at the end of each day, I've helped my employer in ways that wouldn't be possible if I was stuck in that cubicle from 9 to 5.
And that my friends, is a win-win.
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Quitting Your Job is the Wrong Move
Create a Side-Business From What you Know
A Job is Optional
Making Money Online – Where to Start
How to Find Energy for Your Side-Hustle
How it Feels to Live on Your Own Terms
The Tools I Use and Recommend
Books for Entrepreneurs in the New Economy
Thanks for stopping by and I hope we get to hang out more in the future. And in the meantime, please feel free to share your own experiences. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I respond to all emails. If this was beneficial to you, please consider subscribing and sharing with someone you think would also benefit.
Disclaimer & Disclosure: I'm not a psychologist, and I'm not a financial advisor's elbow. This material doesn't constitute financial advice but rather a collection of personal opinions, based on my own experiences. Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. I provide links to services or products I have used and liked or researched and recommend. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you believe they will be beneficial to you
Also published on Medium.