Do freelancers need an office?
I've been working as a Ruby freelancer for a few years now, primarily from my clients' premises. When you're working closely with a client, sharing their office is just the thing, but it doesn't come without its distractions. I find it more difficult to concentrate on a tricky problem if there's much background chatter going on. Busy offices don't necessarily make for my best work.
Towards the end of last year I finished a fairly long stint at Wordtracker. Since then I've done a few web development jobs for clients in London, interspersed with time at home working on my own applications.
I've been having a love/hate relationship with working from home. When it's good it's really really good, but when it's bad, it's awful. At home I either get an enormous amount of work done, or become hopelessly distracted. To do my best work I need an environment where I can achieve flow, for long periods of time.
Home clearly wasn't cutting it and something had to be done.
A month ago I started renting a desk in the offices of Caffeine Hit on Rivington Street (they do web design in Shoreditch). It's not as expensive as you might think; if proper office space makes me at least one day a month more productive than working at home, I'm in profit.
I've also picked up a new client, largely as a result of being local; there's more web and iPhone development work in Shoreditch than I realised. Most of the work that I've done for my new client has been on their premises, but when I've had some tricky problems to solve I've nipped back to my own desk and got stuck into it.