Working from home is an amazing lifestyle improvement over going into the office every day, but sometimes the office can be quite isolating. A recent Twitter conversation got me thinking about some fun places to work outside of the home when you don’t have a company office as an option. Here are some fun places for freelancers and other web and online workers to get some social stimulation during the workday.
No list of freelance work locations is complete without a mention of the old standby, your local coffee shop. Whether you prefer the big chains like Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or prefer the independent variety, you are bound to see other remote workers hammering away at the keyboard in coffee shops around the world.
Don’t forget about coffee shops inside of bookstores as great work locations, but avoid grocery store coffee stands as they probably don’t have free wireless internet or tables to sit at while working.
You already pay for your library through property taxes, so you might as well put it to good use! My local downtown library has plenty of desks and tables to use with very fast internet at no charge. While it is sometimes a challenge to find an outlet, it is a fun place to write without being forced into buying a coffee to use the space.
Most libraries have talking areas, quiet areas, and private rooms depending on your preference. Just make sure to follow the rules and avoid talking on your phone or you might find yourself getting scolded by a librarian. It’s like elementary school déjà vu!
A few freelancer friends have told me they like working in the lobbies of upscale hotels. You can usually log into free lobby WiFi and find a little nook or table to cozy up and get to work. Hotels with large conference areas are best, as they tend to have more options for places to sit. As long as you dress like someone who belongs there, you shouldn’t have any problems. You’ll fit in well with the business travelers and conference attendees.
Avoid smaller hotels, as you might stick out as someone who is not a guest and doesn’t belong. Try out a few options around your area and you’ll probably find a couple of favorite work spots you can use for free not far from home.
More and more cities are adding public wireless internet networks to outdoor spaces. This includes pedestrian malls and public parks in some cities. If you are lucky enough to have that as an option, find a spot in the shade that you can camp out for a while and make a few bucks. Getting a little fresh air and vitamin D is essential for home workers who can go days without leaving the house.
If you don’t have free internet available, you may be able to turn you cell phone into a hotspot to stay connected while outside. Just beware of expensive data charges depending on your cell phone plan’s data limits and fees. You don’t want to spend an afternoon in the park and find out you’ll have to pay a hundred dollars for all the data you used!
One of my most productive places to work is an airplane. At 30,000 feet, I am a captive audience and don’t have anywhere to go. As long as I’m traveling solo and don’t have to worry about the kids, planes are a fantastic place to get things done.
Throw on some headphones, drop your laptop on the tray table, and put your travel time to good use. I hate wasting time in transit, so I’m always looking to maximize productivity on the go. Don’t forget to work in the waiting area or an executive lounge if you have access so you don’t waste too much time between security and boarding.
I live just a few blocks from a local city college. Where better to work than an environment that fosters learning, productivity, and successful careers? In addition to the campus library, explore the various buildings, dining areas, and hang outs that are popular places for students to go and work on projects and homework assignments. Odds are they work well for you too.
As a benefit, a college often offers a vibrant community with plenty of activity. You might stumble on a poster advertising a fun event or get inspired to take a class and grow your knowledge and skills. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
If you want to work outside of the house on a regular basis, consider coworking. Coworking is a fancy term for shared office spaces optimized for solo entrepreneurs and small teams. They typically offer desks, fast internet, printing, coffee, and community for members.
I was a member of a local coworking space in Ventura for a few months when I went full-time online, but found I worked at home more often than not and didn’t think it was worth the $70 per month for access. However, for many people that is a perfect option and a bargain for a regular place to work. Plus, the community adds another layer of value for solopreneurs looking to expand their network and meet other like-minded business owners.
I am writing this article sitting in a Mexican restaurant! I see pictures of laptops on the beach, by the pool, and many other places around the world. Just make sure to get outside from time to time and maintain human interaction. If you do, you will find your work lifestyle much more enjoyable.