Freelancing comes with tons of perks, one of the biggest being the autonomy to manage your own time and work wherever you want, whenever you want. Before I went back to freelancing full-time, I used to work a four-day-a-week part-time job but was always happiest on Monday, my freelance day. Even though I crammed it full of work, I loved knowing the whole day was mine to manage however I pleased.
But all that freedom can have its downsides. While my heart goes out to anyone who’s been made to return to the office against their will, when you don’t have a manager to congratulate you on a job well done or a co-worker to go for a drink and blow off some steam with, freelancing can feel lonely.
If you do feel lonely, you’re not alone. According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, in 2022, almost half of adults in the UK reported feeling lonely occasionally, sometimes, often or always. Although loneliness is increasingly common, it can have dire effects on our health, impacting our stress responses, increasing our risk of high blood pressure, reducing immunity against infections and leading to poorer sleep quality.
In this blog post, I’ll explore ways of staying connected when you’re a freelancer and building a supportive network.
1. Online forums
Online forums are a great way to test out a community — you can get involved as much or as little as you like and there’s no pressure to contribute. The downside to an online forum is that you have to be intentional about reaching out and making connections. You’re much less likely to make firm friends with someone the way you would by sitting beside them in the office if you don’t put yourself out there. And even though the haters say Facebook is dead, the groups are still thriving! There is a Facebook group for everything and it’s a wonderful way to get advice and grow your network.
2. Co-working communities
My personal favourite and the fastest way to build your network. By working alongside a community of other freelancers, you’ll find you get more done, make great connections and leave with new friends. I’ve just set up Flexi Collective, a co-working community for freelancers and remote workers in London. Unlike a traditional workspace, everyone who joins our co-working sessions is there to connect with other freelancers and make friends. It’s a great way to hold yourself accountable (there’s something about working around other people that makes me more productive!), expand your network and even find work
3. Take up a new hobby
Anyone starting a new hobby is open to new experiences and that includes meeting new people. And there is something very empowering about doing something you’ve never done before with a group of strangers! Some of my personal favourites have been:
- Roller Skating Lesson with the Isle of Skating
- Improv classes with the Free Association
- Climbing course at The Castle
- Motorcycle lessons and meet up with VC London
If you’re not sure what you’d like to do and feel a little disconnected from yourself, start an ‘I love’ list on your phone. Just jot down a couple of things you love — this could be your morning cup of tea, the mountains, a song you love — anything. It’s a great base for figuring out what hobbies you’ll enjoy spending your time doing.
4. Start a food bank collection
Starting a collection for your local food bank is a brilliant way to give something back to your local community and meet your neighbours. It can be as simple as popping a food bank box outside your front door for neighbours to drop items off throughout the week and bringing the donations to the food bank once the box is full. It can be hard to take on a more traditional volunteer role when you work during the day so this is a good solution. The Trussell Trust website can help you find a food bank in your local area.
Join the community.
Flexi Collective is creating a vibrant community where freelancers and remote workers across London can work together, socialise and forge meaningful connections. For more information visit our website and use the code FREEDAY to book a free co-working session.
Guest blog by Kat Buckley of Flexi Collective.