The scoop on how to be a successful remote worker, from the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, TX.
Portland. “Rose City.” “Bridgetown.” “Stumptown.” Many folks simply call it by the airport code: PDX. Portland’s about many things—craft beer, food trucks, and a burgeoning arts scene. It’s also a great place to enjoy far simpler pleasures like walkable neighborhoods and a plethora of fine local haunts that are conducive to an afternoon of productive remote work.
It also happens to be an excellent place for freelancers to work on their trade. Why? There’s a great infrastructure for gig workers to thrive. There’s free and low-cost classes to keep your skills on the bleeding edge. New coworking spaces are popping up on a weekly basis. Plus, plenty of quality meetups for networking and intellectual stimulation. And coffeehouses. Lots of them.
I spoke with Darren Buckner, the co-founder and CEO of Workfrom, as well as Jehn Glynn, the co-founder of The Creative Roundtable, a Portland-based organization dedicated to the support and guidance of creative entrepreneurs. They provided their insider perspectives on Portland’s place as a hub in the gig economy.
Portland’s location plays an important role in its success: “The city is part of that culture of West Coast entrepreneurship,” says Buckner.
The budding tech industry and growing base of knowledge workers create an innovative and engaging atmosphere. There’s a strong creative scene that propels the work of a lot of agencies and creates a ton of opportunities for client-based work. “Portland has opportunity, you just have to be willing to work for it and work with the community to sustain it,” says Glynn.
And home office-based freelancers can breathe easy: high-speed internet is readily available at a reasonable cost; for speed demons, access to fiber is quickly increasing.
Laid back, collaborative, and unconventional: that describes Portlanders in a nutshell. There’s a great deal of support within the community for intrepid ways of getting things done. And people are, of course, what it’s all about. “Finding your people in person is truly invaluable and very possible in Portland,” says Glynn. Buckner agrees: “You meet folks who are crafting their days and have similar interests.”
Make sure you don’t overly rely on online networking, though. Getting out in person to engage with the vibrant community can open many opportunities. “I would tell a freelancer to not be shy about getting out into the community to meet people, ask for the help you need and offer to help as well,” says Glynn.
Getting involved with groups such as The Creative Roundtable is an important part of getting connected. “Once they do that, they will be welcomed and celebrated for what they are doing and contributing,” says Glynn, “it’s important to contribute to the community by helping one another, which in turn means you’ll also get the help you need.”
Portland offers a great deal of support for alternative lifestyles and schedules. As Buckner puts it, “Come to Portland expecting a big bonus when it comes to support for living life on your terms.” This is a huge benefit for freelancers who often keep unconventional hours. “[You] can craft your days and have access to great food and outdoor activities,” says Buckner.
Those of the outdoor persuasion can easily take a break from client demands to recharge with a trip to nearby Mt. Hood or an hour’s drive to the Oregon coast. And if you simply can’t afford to step away, you’ll find connectivity and a quality cup of joe or a microbrew in unexpected locations.
Room to Roam
Use Workfrom to help you find great spaces to get things done while you’re in Portland—after all, it’s our company’s hometown. And while you’re in town, look for us at one of our weekly meetups. Don’t worry; we won’t bite. Unless it’s into one of these, of course!
Freelancers and other remote workers can find plenty of workspace options on Workfrom–a community-sourced search engine and virtual tribe that spans the globe. Sign up for free to scout spaces, check out the Untethered blog for more remote-friendly posts, and consider joining your virtual tribe with a Workfrom membership.