There has been a lot of discussion in my Facebook group ‘Editor’s hub’ about the joys of being freelance. It’s true there are many positives to working from home; chiefly flexibility, autonomy and no daily commute. However, what might come as a shock is how much you miss your colleagues; the daily interactions and companionship with people other than your family. Those natural, casual conversations whilst at the water cooler, waiting for the kettle to boil or even when washing your hands in the toilets. They spark ideas and build relationships based on far more than common work goals. They make work colourful and fun.
When working from home it’s easy to lose this important dimension to work. It’s something I’m acutely aware of and sadly I admit, I’m a victim of. I confess I have a target of speaking to at least five different people a day. Telephone conversations count, but I don’t always achieve this. I did have quite a good relationship with the post mistress as I used to be a regular customer, sending large parcels of proofs by special delivery. Now I mark up proofs on a pdf, so there is no need for me to visit the post office or chat to the post mistress. This tale gets even more sad because the post office is now closed. On a happier note, I pursue quite a few activities in my spare time and have to be careful that the socialising doesn’t impinge too much on my work hours. (This is where the flexibility comes in.)
However, I think I’ve been missing something thinking that work and social interaction are mutually exclusive. Closer relationships with clients and other people we work alongside would make work more joyful and frankly easier. From a business point of view the better we know the people we are working with, the more likely we are to be able to have empathy and understand their needs. This should lead to a long-term business relationship. A win-win situation!
So, is this a pipe dream? It might appear so, especially when you consider that the default communication in publishing is email and personal insights into the sender’s life in those emails is scarce or non-existent. However, I believe you can build these relationships, but it doesn’t happen effortlessly as it does in an office, it takes work. In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to explore how you can bring some love into relationships with colleagues, with a view to bringing more joy into work and improving business relationships.
If you would like to join ‘Editors hub’ over on Facebook and get to know other freelancers in publishing, follow this link.