If you go down to the cafe today, you might be in for a surprise.
It’s not unusual to see people working from laptops, and the increasing size of the freelance workforce in the last ten years has fuelled this sight, but on Thursday October 10, whilst many employers are supporting their employees on World Mental Health Awareness Day, those without an employer are coming together to support their own mental health, and sitting in public spaces to work together.
Encouraged by community group Leapers, freelancers from across the world have been invited to spend the morning working together, whether it be in coffee shops, coworking spaces, or even their clients’ offices, in a bid to reduce the feeling of isolation that can often affect the self-employed.
“We know that freelancing is an attractive way of working for many people, but it comes with its challenges too - many work from home alone for long periods of time, and we want to remind people that there are plenty of spaces you can work from, and plenty of people to work alongside.” says Matthew Knight, founder of Leapers, and himself a freelance strategist.
45% of freelancers said that poor mental health has negatively affected their ability to work, in a piece of research conducted earlier this year by the group, which explored the relationships between self-employment and mental health.
“When you step away from a ‘job’ into self-employment, you’re giving up a support structure - sick pay and holiday pay people think about, but also training, career development, and importantly teams. We encourage those considering self-employment to look at ways to build up a new support structure for themselves, and working together with others is an essential part of maintaining good mental health, and developing professionally.” Knight explains.
"Feeling isolated and disconnected is a common state for freelancers” Matt Desmier adds, a freelancer working in Bournemouth. “It’s nice to have someone to talk to, to bounce ideas off, even just to watch your laptop whilst you nip to the bathroom! I’ve invited a group of my fellow freelancers to join me for coffee on October 10th, as it’s a really simple premise: connection, conversation and coffee. I think it goes a really long way to helping prevent my mental health declining."
Over 40% of UK businesses rely upon freelancers to provide both essential and non-essential services, and over 5m people in the UK are now self-employed, with large numbers of women and older workers finding this way of working as an effective way to juggle other obligations, or create additional revenue streams.
“Organisations are increasingly turning towards freelancers to create more flexible and diverse workforces, and can be doing a great deal more to support the wellbeing of their network of people who they rely upon for the success of their business, but individuals need to take responsibility for their own mental health too - and event simple actions like working together with others can help”, says Knight.
Freelancers can register to participate in the event at https://leapers.co/work-together, and events are popping up all over the UK, and in countries across the globe, including the US, Australia, the Netherlands, and India.
Notes for Editors
Leapers is a non-funded online support community - its mission is to make modern working more supportive for modern workers - with a focus on the mental health and working relationships of the self-employed. We help individuals and organisations who want to support them too. Founded by Matthew Knight in 2017, the group has over 1000 members in 20 timezones, is featured on the Mind UK portal for supporting mental health in the workplace, has recently published an ebook on Mental Health for the Self Employed, and conducted a 600 person research study into mental health and freelancing, the results of which will be published later this year.
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