Freelancing may very well be the future of work. One of the most interesting statistics I’ve come across lately is that by 2020 nearly 40% of workers are expected to work in a freelance or remote capacity. That is three, short, years away.

The reason for such a massive shift in the working world is that freelance work is so versatile. It can take many forms, be done in nearly every industry, and is changing the global economy, fast. There is still a lot of kinks to figure out, from how tax laws apply for freelancers working with clients around the world, or juggling time zones as a team of remote workers move fluidly to destinations of their choosing. But the issues that come with virtual work and freelancing pall in comparison to the freedom it gives those workers.

One of the reasons I joined Roam, was knowing that as the future of work shifts, how people connect is going to need to change. Freelance and virtual workers spend most of our time alone, on a computer or mobile device, there is nothing wrong with that but it definitely means on your down time you crave more human interaction and miss the sense of “community” that old school neighborhoods and traditional employers gave.

Enter, the new movement called ‘co-living’. Communal living spaces like Roam provide the inspiration, community, and opportunities to focus on your work, while also enjoying community and collaboration—from real humans.

At Roam, we are excited to be at the front line of the co-living experience; with our locations in Miami, London, and Bali (more opening soon!) we love helping freelancers realize their professional and personal goals while co-living with us. Here are some of the big factors we know play a role in freelancer success and happiness, and how we’re incorporating them into the Roam experience.

Community, Happiness, and The Freelancer

Since the freelance movement began to pick up steam in the past decade, there has been a wave of communities that have risen up. This helps explain the massive growth in the co-working sector: when you’re working remotely or as a freelancer, life can be really lonely.

Community is an integral component of our happiness, one of nine identified by the government of Bhutan (the country responsible for the concept of “Gross National Happiness” as an alternative to “Gross Domestic Product” as a measure of a country’s well-being). Without connection to others, we feel lost, adrift, and our happiness (and productivity) suffers. This is as true for freelancers as it is for office workers, but more acute for freelancers who may not have coworkers, a consistent workspace, or even a home base.

Co-living is a natural extension of co-working, especially as freelancers become more mobile – often tethered only by a stable internet connection. Co-living spaces like Roam allow freelancers to establish a temporary base and community that fits their needs, without all of the extra strings.

Less is More: Freelance Minimalists

During my own journey, I’ve come to realize how unimportant “stuff” is to our happiness. We often hear in advertising how we always need the new next best thing or an upgrade for the house, car, or electronic. It turns out that while advertising lines the pockets of advertising executives and conglomerates,  it does absolutely nothing for our happiness once we’ve bought everything they’re offering.

The Minimalists, a great website for those looking to learn more about the concept and practice of minimalism, have an excellent summary of the science that demonstrate the principle that “less is more” when it comes to happiness. Similar to how it’s now common knowledge that winning the lottery makes you no happier, the next generation of workers know that it’s not about large paychecks, fancy cars, or expensive houses.

Instead, we at Roam see how freelancers who stay with us have given up some of the most traditional “must-haves” and enjoy greater freedom and happiness as a result. They’re no longer tied to an expensive apartment in the hippest neighborhoods; they no longer have closets full of clothing they don’t ever wear – they bring the basics and necessities, and we take care of the rest!

Adding Travel to the Mix

Lastly, there is a certain magic when it comes to working better when you add a bit (or a lot) of travel to the mix. Travel helps freelancers be more productive, creative, and innovative. From The Atlantic to travel website Matador Network, there are plenty of good summaries of how travel helps us work better.

One reason we are so passionate about opening properties around the world, and launching things like the Roam Explorer program to allow freelancers to move at will between our locations. We know that taking care of some logistics – like picking inspiring destinations, crafting community, and removing the need to buy more stuff – helps freelancers focus on creating high quality work and advance in their careers.

Are you a freelancer and living a life communal life? Share your secrets in the comments below.


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