My 6-months experience of freelancer teleworking

This post is also available in: Aragonese, Spanish

Just two weeks ago, I reached the first six months since I established my professional activity under the broad concept of freelancer.

My work focuses on business management in the fields of sustainability, environment, social responsibility and labour safety. Since this posts is not intended to be any sort of documentary about my professional skills, I refer you to my company webpage in case you want to go into depth on my activity and, if you are interested, I am at your or your company´s disposal.

“Work is not a place nor a time; it´s just an activity”

In practice, I develop my work from the place I start my computer and get an available Internet connection. I usually work at the office I have at my habitual residence in Mataró (Barcelona); I also work from my family home in Ontinar (Zaragoza), where I spend several days every month. And, in specific occasions, from improvised places where I can start my computer and connect to the Internet, be it to any available wi-fi or cellular´s connectivity, if needed.

When it comes to working time, I stablished a number of daily, weekly and monthly tasks. Based on this, it may raise certain tasks in such an unexpected time, as the working place I described in the previous paragraph.

For these reasons, my work “is not a place nor a time; it´s just an activity”.

This working system is anything but innovative nor strange. Professionals from a wide range of fields have been working for years from remote locations and submit their finished jobs via Internet. At the beginning, they were rare cases but, little by little, this form of working is becoming more and more common: information and communication technologies are removing barriers to entry in such a level that even ultra-regulated professional activities -like mine- may be developed under this method.

A sustainable way of work

First of all, despite this approach is apparently simple, to get the activity off the ground is as difficult, or even more, as any other. All of us compete in the same (damaged) court and the magic formulas are within reach of few. I am not a chosen one. So, the way ahead is hard.

Furthermore, depending on each one´s personalty, working lone, without any continuos supervision or working time, may turn the work even more complicated. So, apart from a good planning and perseverance, each one´s nature is an important factor. I am lucky in this regard.

However, despite all this disadvantages, this working method brings a number of benefits which make it very competitive and interesting for me:

1. Work specifications and confidence

When working out of any corporate premises, without a fixed time nor the direct supervision of the organization, the work performance indicators must be very precise, and must be linked to the completed tasks, the work delivered within the agreed standards and conditions.

There are lots of systems to watch and measure the commitment (in hours) or the geographic location of a worker, even in remote places, but go to it is a very very bad sign. A job´s specification as those found in a labor agreement is ambiguous. It doesn´t works.

Instead of this, the precise specifications of the work to develop are the foundations of the mutual confidence between you and the business contracting your services. The clearer and simpler the work criteria, the relation with the client will be more satisfactory and less misunderstandings will happen.

From this basic but solid trust, great alliances may be built.

2. Expenses and time reduction

Even if you work from home, some commuting is needed in order to perform certain tasks such as on-site inspections and works in a business´ premises, attending or participating in talks, presentations, congresses, training courses,… Anyway, these are occasional trips.

There are certain events that the Internet makes easier, such as meetings via video conference (Skype) with people with who is difficult to meet, or attendance to courses or events held in remote locations which may be seen online.

Nevertheless, most of the regular trips -daily commuting- are not necessary anymore. Even in the case of working in a city with public transport available, we are talking of savings that easily reach 100€ per month.

In addition, it must be added the cost of eating in a restaurant, or the time and inconveniences if you take your own food from home.

In sum, without any extra expenses and time spent in logistic issues that have nothing to do with the work, my main expenses are the computer, the Internet and phone connection, the maintenance of my Internet infrastructure (webpage, Internet services,…), training courses I get, etcetera.

In this context, the most disproportionated expense I have is the self-employed fee, turning the Spanish State as the greatest threat of my professional activity.

This time and expenses reduction has nothing to do with low-cost. It is all about efficiency and performance by optimising resources in order to provide a real value.

3. A way good for the work-life balance and the environment

Saving the commuting time to work and the time spent cooking when you take your own food from home, brings some other advantages, apart from the money:

  • pollutants emissions to the atmosphere are avoided in a significative amount within the overall emissions of the regular activities of a person;
  • the use of kitchenware and packaging is minimised;
  • the time lost is reduced and you can spent it on work or on your personal life;
  • therefore, the technology is used as a tools that makes the work easier and improves the quality of life.

If you look, the optimal performance of this way of work gathers the three aspects featuring the sustainable development: economic, environmental and social.

So, that´s my main objective: to built a sustainable activity. There is a long way ahead as six months are just the beginning of the starting point but, at least for now, I am enjoying the path.