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Where to Work When You Work Remotely

We often think that working remotely means working from home. While that is often true, there are times when you need to get out of the house. Whether it is home construction, connectivity problems or just the need to get out of the house, there are many reasons that those of us who work remotely need to find other places to work. We’ve put together this list of ideas and resources to help you make the most of working remotely away from home.

Library - if quiet is what you need to get some work done, the library might be the place for you.

  • PROS - free wifi (usually), no need to buy anything, very few distractions and a variety of workspaces to choose from. Many libraries are upgrading their facilities to accommodate co-workers and even offer tech hubs with tools such as printers, projectors, 3D printers, scanners for your use.
  • CONS - unless your library offers small office spaces, you can not take phone calls unless you step outside.
  • PRO-TIP - Get librarians on your team. These research professionals can be a great resource on a wide range of topics such as local regulations and licensing requirements, tax information, business development, business technology, or market research. Get there early and get one of the 'quiet rooms' if possible. They typically offer a little extra sound protection and can help distraction stay to a minimum; carry headphones/earphones in case that's not possible. Keep an extra long computer cord and look for a table against the wall so your cord is out of the way. Some libraries have Lynda.com or similar accounts so take advantage of their free online classes. Some libraries are open to you using their empty/currently unused conference rooms as a quiet spot which is great if a call pops up. Go to the bathroom on your way in so you're not stuck disassembling your work space for a quick run 15 minutes in. And don't forget your fruit juicer water bottle as they'll seldom allow other food/drinks.

School - if you have school age children, or are in school yourself, the campus can be a great place to get some work done.

  • PROS - You are likely to get some free wifi, and it is especially convenient if you are doing school drop-offs or pick-ups.
  • CONS - If you don’t have an affiliation with the school, it is unlikely they will share facilities. Not all schools are open to this, especially as security tightens in many places. It can be hard to find a quiet spot, and even when you do there is always a chance you will be interrupted by a ringing bell or a boisterous kid..
  • PRO-TIP - Ask school administrators if there is an unused space you can get permission to use. Especially after-school hours, they may be open to letting you park in an unused classroom. You can also ask about school access to closed (and often more reliable) internet access- being an involved school parent would be a big help on this one.

Coffee shops - the remote worker’s go to workspace outside the home, coffee shops are a great place to spend an afternoon or even the whole day working.

  • PROS - most coffee shops cater to the remote worker, so are happy to provide a workspace and free wifi for the low cost of a cup of coffee. And you will generally encounter other remote workers who enjoy meeting and greeting with their fellow digital warriors.
  • CONS - they can get crowded and noisy, so do not work well for calls or virtual meetings. And you really should be a coffee (or at least tea) drinker to enjoy time spent here. And with a limited menu, you can run out of good options if you are a frequent visitor. And the calorie creep can get high when someone offers to bring you food & drink every 10 minutes or so.
  • PRO-TIP - Sign up for their frequent visitor program and you can usually get free refills on coffee  or discounts on food. Make friends with a few of those other virtual workers you see each week and find a few that you can count on to watch your bags during the necessary bathroom break. Bring an outlet splitter to create an extra outlet for yourself or a new friend.

Restaurants - similar to coffee shops but not targeting the remote worker, small local restaurants can be a good alternative.

  • PROS - if you like to get out of the house more than once a week, finding a few restaurant spots can add some good food and ambiance variety to your week. And like the coffee shop, restaurants can be good for the social interactions. Especially if you go where everybody knows your name.
  • CONS - restaurants operate at a higher turnover rate, so they are not always thrilled to have someone camping out at a table for a few hours. And again, it can get pretty noisy, especially during peak breakfast and lunch hours. Restaurants are less likely to provide free wifi, as they are not catering to the working-while-eating crowd.
  • Pro-tip. Buy stuff. If you are a regular, go beyond the daily cup of coffee. Buy a t-shirt or mug and help advertise their business. Share some love in social media or otherwise help spread the word. If your work depends on their success, then do your part. Don’t forget to tip big. Servers will be a little happier to let you hang if they know your tip will compensate for the table time.

Playground/Park - local parks and playgrounds can be an ideal spot to work outside your home.

  • PROS - These kid and pet friendly spots are (literally) a breath of fresh air on a sunny day. You have the privacy you need to get calls done, and freedom to spread out work stuff and food stuff if you choose. And the free price tag is a pretty nice deal.
  • CONS - Bugs. And they are weather dependent, so not available on a regular basis.
  • PRO-TIP - You’ll need to bring all of your own supplies - including power charges (or better yet, a solar powered laptop charger). Use a mobile desk basket to help transport all of your essentials from spot to spot. Check out any buildings or bandstands on site - there’s often power even in the most unlikely places. Bring a sun umbrella or sunshade - the glare from the sun can make seeing the screen difficult at times.

Car - talk about mobile office, this one really gets around.

  • PROS - Another freebie that can include kids/pets for short periods of time. This is a good option if you are between carpool drop-offs.
  • CONS - You will need to bring your own wifi, and the cramped space limits comfort to short time spurts. And, of course, safety is a concern when in extreme temperatures, so your options are limited to mild weather seasons.
  • PRO-TIP - Bring entertainment for the kids/pets including some books, videos or their own kid’s learning laptop so they can be “working” right along with you. Keep a small mobile lap desk hidden in the trunk or under a seat to help keep hot laptops off your lap. Keep a small notebook and pencils/pens in your glove compartment - there’s nothing worse than having inspiration strike and nowhere to jot the details!

Co-working spaces - now we are getting into the professional spaces that give you more of the advantages of an office, but the flexibility of remote working.

  • PROS - you pre-book your space, so you know you have a quiet work spot when you need it. Most co-working spaces come equipped with standard office necessities such as printers, copiers, mailboxes, and various office supplies. You can usually either rent a private office or reserve one on occasions that you need it. And co-working spaces are a great place to network with other remote workers.
  • CONS - they are very limited in certain areas of the country. You can find those in your area . They can also be much more expensive than the free options mentioned above, but the reliability of
  • PRO-TIP - some good sites for finding a co-working space near you are https://loop.space/ and https://www.outsite.co/about. If you’re lucky enough to have a few choices in your area, do your research. Are you looking for a space that offers remote work get togethers, encourages conversation or is strictly quiet.  

Local businesses - many local businesses have an extra room that they are willing to rent out to professionals on a short term basis.

  • PROS - the advantages of a reliable location, with your own private space. A local business is likely to have the conveniences of a professional setting such as copier, mailroom, office supplies, a fridge and coffee maker.
  • CONS - you are dependent on the space needs/decisions of your short-term landlord, so may find yourself out of the office before you are ready. Though you can usually get below-market rates, you will still need to pay something to rent the space.

PRO-TIP Service businesses are good places to ask. Try your accountant, lawyer, real estate agent, marketing firm to see if their agency has extra office space to rent. A good site for finding different types of businesses (real estate, hotel, etc,) willing to rent space is https://liquidspace.com.

Editors note: This blog post was inspired by a conversation in the Working From Home subgroup in Reddit. We recommend joining this group for good information on working from home.

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