Monthly birthday cake in the break room, high-class kitchenettes with gourmet coffee bars, lounge areas mimicking cozy living rooms. You don’t get any of these workplace perks when you’re self-employed — but you can get so much more.
As an independent contractor, you control every aspect of your working environment, schedule and workload. Sure, you have goals to meet and projects to complete, but who says you can’t break out of the cubicle mindset and have a little fun with your workday?
If you’re jealous of the workplace perks your best buddy brags about at happy hour, wait until you tell him about the changes you’ve made to your workday. Here are a few ways I amped up my career satisfaction.
Create Your Own Team-Building Experiences
Large companies often host annual off-site workshops to improve communication among coworkers and revitalize employee focus. Generally, it’s a day flecked with relaxation and personal introspection. These activities are incredibly important to maintaining the office work flow and mental health of the staff.
I’ve got that beat. Each week, I attend a lunch-hour yoga class, and most days, I do some short meditation and yoga routines in the room branching off my home office. Whenever I feel the stress of deadlines creeping up, I roll out my mat. My personal health is a daily priority, because my self-boss says so.
Make Casual Friday a Daily Affair
Some offices relax the dress code once a week as a workplace perk. Some even combine the activity with fundraising for a local charity. For one dollar, you can wear sneakers. For five, you can show up in jeans. I love the idea of giving back and loosening the proverbial tie at the end of a long week.
Why not do the same? I drop off bags of supplies at the local dog rescue group or donate to the latest charitable collection among the ladies at the gym. Last month, we bought hundreds of winter gloves to distribute at the homeless shelter. And about that dress code? When I’m in my home office, slippers are the preferred footwear. I often complete early morning work in my pajamas, before visiting the gym.
Customize Your Personal Business Development
Each summer, the company my husband works for sends him to a huge company conference. The management professionals attend workshops, socialize with key vendors and learn about upcoming promotions. It’s a great way to get everyone on board and focused just before the busy fall season.
As an entrepreneur, there’s nothing holding you back from immersing yourself in a learning experience to boost your knowledge and confidence. Look into local small business groups or attend a larger, industry-focused conference. Investing in yourself is a key component to building your business.
Design a Cozy Working Environment
In college, I toured a major advertising agency in California. I was in awe at the colorful clusters of seating at the end of each hallway, where workers visited and collaborated. I didn’t see any fluorescent strip lights or cubicles. One creative whizzed past our group on his skateboard. The office was relaxed and inviting.
When you set up your home office, emulate all the perks you admire at big companies. There are no rules against putting an espresso machine within reach of your desk or spending afternoons on a laptop at the local park. As long as the environment is conducive to completing your work, go for it!
Throw a New Spin on Holiday Office Parties
I used to look forward to these casual get-togethers. I liked wearing something festive, socializing with my work friends and enjoying a complimentary catered dinner. The break from the daily routine is refreshing and helps employees reconnect on a social level.
This past holiday season, as everyone posted on social media about yet another corporate dinner, I celebrated with an afternoon off with my furry coworkers. I took the dogs on a refreshing walk around the neighborhood, kicked back and ordered pizza. No, I didn’t miss the dry buffet food or idle chatter. But, I did wear a Santa hat. You can also use this time to meet up with other freelancers and create your own community of coworkers who may just be jonesing for an excuse to dress up, too.
When you’re self-employed, there’s no employee manual or company policies to follow. Create the ideal schedule and environment that inspires you to tackle each day with enthusiasm and passion for your craft. This is your business; build it with your happiness in mind.