A recent Buffer survey found that loneliness was the biggest problem for 21 per cent of freelancers when they switched over to remote working. But working alone doesn’t just mean you miss chatting about Love Island by the coffee machine — it can mean you struggle to find a partner, too.
Caroline, a freelance creative consultant, is single, and wonders if her work has affected that. “I’ve been a freelancer for 12 years and definitely feel that this choice makes it harder to find a relationship. This way of life is great for my work, but I’m creating professional relationships that need to stay that way. My experience is that if it becomes anything else then the work opportunity often disappears.”
Genevieve Zawada-Gresset, CEO of the dating agency Elect Club (electclub.co.uk) and co-founder of Relationship Retreats, has seen a dramatic rise in freelancers, entrepreneurs and home workers using her services over the past three years.
She says: “Working from home is always a challenge when looking for love. You don’t naturally get to meet colleagues and bond or get introduced to other single friends.”
Even outside the office, Genevieve adds this working style has affected her clients’ ability to make connections: “Their communication skills are very poor. They find it almost impossible to speak on the phone, meaning they struggle to arrange simple dates.”
If you feel you need more ways to bring love into your world, here are five simple ways you can start.
Go to industry events
Are you going to industry events, but avoiding the drinks party afterwards because you won’t know anyone? Remember — not knowing anyone is why you should go. These informal gatherings are a great place to give some CPR to your underused small-talk skills.
Resist the temptation to huddle in a cluster of acquaintances or hide behind your phone in a corner. Instead, position yourself near the bar, the food, or the centre of the room.
Anthropologists call these areas ‘social hotspots’, because they’re where people are most likely to strike up conversations. Also, don’t forget that freelancers might not have Christmas parties to flirt at, but we do have our own version: end-of-year awards ceremonies. Never turn down a ticket.
Try online dating
According to Stamford University’s latest How Couples Meet report, online dating is now the most successful way for singles to find love. It has even overtaken ‘meeting through friends’, which had been in the top spot since 1940.
If it hasn’t worked for you yet, don’t give up: we’re approaching online dating’s busiest period, with most new members joining between Christmas and New Year. Be ready for the onslaught by creating an upbeat profile and uploading your very best photos.
Don’t use your LinkedIn headshot or Instagram avatar – they’re searchable and could lead dates straight to your professional identity. Instead, use informal pictures, flirt like a bandit, and fit as many coffee and lunch dates into your week as you can.
Work from a bar
Switch up your working routine so you’re not lugging your laptop to the same coffee shops every time. Try new venues where it’s more sociable and chatty. Like, a bar.
“I’ve worked from my local pub for four years now,” says Steve, a freelance scriptwriter. “The dialogue is much more interesting than you hear in a café. I met my fiancee there when she came in with friends for lunch.”
Or work in a bar
If your daily grind keeps you isolated, find an evening job that’s sociable. Working at informal places like bars, restaurants, bowling alleys or cinemas will smooth out your cash flow and bring you into regular contact with people who are socialising to meet new friends.
Choose your venue wisely: aim to work in a place where your ideal date would go — like your local Escape Room if you want a clever type, or in a paintballing club if you don’t.
Join freelance networking groups
Want someone who truly understands what it’s like to be self-employed, and who has a schedule as flexible as yours? Another freelancer might be your perfect match.
Ed Goodman, co-founder of the IPSE award-winning Facebook group Freelance Heroes, believes love might just be one post away: “The biggest hurdles when meeting someone for the first time are breaking the ice and knowing what to talk about. Being part of a common-interest group clears both of these challenges.”
After you’ve bonded online, use one of the group’s live events to meet in person, in a low-pressure way. “When I’ve met Freelance Heroes members, it’s often felt like meeting old friends, even on the first occasion. The conversation has flowed freely and naturally from the very beginning.”