Almost everywhere I go (today it was while waiting to have my salad mixed at Chop't) I overhear someone talking to a friend about the travails they're facing as a new freelancer. That's why I was particularly excited to hear about the launch of Home/Office, a web series revealing the sometimes-exciting and often-terrifying details of what happens when a web designer takes the plunge and starts working for himself from the comfort of his own home. Co-created by Josh Shayne and James Darling—whose film production company is aptly called Good Worker—the series takes a comical lens to the culture of freelancing, which is as much a lifestyle choice as it is a career move.
The inspiration for the project came from personal experience. "I have been a freelancer for over 10 years and my parents ran their own design firm through the '80s and '90s so I actually grew up in a home/office," explains Josh. "When you're working for yourself, life and work tend to blend together. I remember growing up and my family would talk/think about client work and relationships all the time: over meals, on weekends, after school—it was always intermixed seamlessly with the rest of life."
The duo recently created a "How to Storyboard" video for Tina Eisenberg's Creative Mornings Skills Series. The advice on planning ahead and communicating effectively across a team of creatives is both specific enough to be helpful and general enough to apply to other types of design projects.
Of course freelancing comes with its own set of problems. Josh told me about a time when he had to deal with scheduled construction on his building, mitigating client phone calls with jackhammer blasts. "Because they were pouring concrete, I couldn't leave the building for the day," he remembered. "Just to hear my clients talk, I ended up taking most of those calls at the back of my apartment, with my head and laptop draped beneath a thick blanket to dull the sound." Home/Office highlights some of these tricky situations, but the overall tone of the series is optimistic, suggesting that, at the end of the day, "the flexibility and independence that comes with freelancing foster creativity, happiness and life satisfaction—which is good for both workers and clients."
In the first episode, as the show's protagonist sets up his new home office, he struggles between making due with the bare necessities and the impulse to outfit his space with top-of-the-line equipment.
The quick episodes, clocking in around 4 minutes each, take the form of distinct, mini-lessons on what it takes to be a freelancer today: from landing your first client, to finding time for dating and staying physically fit and, of course, meeting your deadlines. Aside from whimsical sound effects, the narrative is driven forward by a calm narrator, "guiding the hero along, but also providing a little helpful criticism," as a play on the structure of 1940's-era instructional videos (not that we're encouraging you, but if you must procrastinate–as all good freelancers do—this archive of vintage educational films is a goldmine).
You can check out the first episode, "Starting Your Own Business," below, and make sure to tune-in (possibly over your morning cup of coffee, like I did) to the upcoming episodes of the first season, which go live every Monday at 7 AM PT/10 AM ET here.