The freelance worker is on the rise these days and I have to admit I’m one of them. I work for myself or, in reality, I work for a great many people and companies, spending my working days juggling tasks and deadlines.
This isn’t a blog post about the trials and tribulations of the freelance life as most people can imagine what they are already. But for me, one of the main struggles had been where I work.
Since I took on my full-time freelance role a couple of years ago, I’ve mostly worked from home – you can read a little more about that here. That has had its own challenges because I haven’t yet managed to live in a place where I’ve been able to have a dedicated work space. Mostly I’m at the kitchen table, coffee table, or on very naughty days, still in bed. None of this is ideal, not least because on a busy working day it’s not unusual for me not to leave the house. During particularly busy periods I’ve realized that this can really get me down.
I speak to plenty of people during the day and I do try to get out for meetings and networking but sometimes deadlines dictate that this isn’t possible. I’m tethered to my laptop with just enough spare time in the day to visit the loo. when work finishes I close it and go… into the next room. Not exactly a change of scenery.
So, as you can imagine I was rather chuffed when the lovely people at The Foundry in east Belfast asked if I would like to try out their shared space. Hell. Yes.
For anyone who is self-employed or starting out with a start up, this is an easy solution for work space problems. It works on a number of different levels. There is dedicated and private office space, virtual office services such as call handling and registered addresses and hot desks.
I’ve been trying out the hotdesks for a couple of weeks now and it’s become more and more apparent just how valuable is to a freelance like me. Access to The Foundry’s very stylish hotdesk space ranges from 24/7 to an hourly rate. You can also sign up for 9-5 access from Monday to Friday or evening just evening access for those who are juggling a new venture around their day job.
Facilities include desk (obviously) and WiFi, kitchen facilities with free tea and coffee, meeting rooms, printing services and a relaxation areas. All very handy – the desks each feature power points and USB points and for an office at the bottom of Belfast’s Newtownards Road, right next to a motorway, the lack of road noise is impressive. As is the distance into the city centre.
But that’s not what makes The Foundry special. It’s one of the friendliest offices I’ve ever been in. Everyone comes and introduces themselves and stops for a chat – but not in an obtrusive way. I’ve got new Facebook friends and even met someone I know. You can write on the walls – yes, really – so if you need a little more space to consider your ideas there’s plenty of it. Management is thoughtful and prompt. the kitchen wall features calls for any ideas or suggestions – when they appear they are answered so everyone can see progress.
There’s a bit of craic here and a friendly atmosphere. I feel like I’m part of a team but I can still carry on and do my own thing, whenever suits me. At the same time I don’t need to worry about cleaning, bills, or whether or not last night’s dishes have been left on the kitchen table. It makes a real difference to get up, dress for work and leave my house every day instead of taking root at the kitchen day. I can also, as much as anyone can these days, close my computer and leave work behind at the end of the day. Also, Google tells me that the cost of renting office space can be claimed back in the UK.
Other hotdesking space has opened in Belfast recently and I suspect with the way of the world these days there will be more. But costs vary and terms vary. At least at The Foundry you can tailor your package to suit your exact needs and timetable and keep working in a great friendly atmosphere.