Working remotely - header

How to Find the Perfect “Office” When You’re Location Independent

In Work from the Road by Christina Winkler1 Comment

Working remotely is great, but trying to find good places to do it while traveling is a pain. Hunching over a computer in bed wearing PJ’s all day isn’t really a long-term solution.

Coffee shops are a popular option, providing both the need for caffeine and some background buzz. They’re not ideal for those needing peace and quiet, though, and with so many other people around, Wi-fi speeds often leave a lot to be desired.

Working remotely in a cafe

In 2016, a stunning 35% of the US workforce was made up of freelancers, with many working outside the traditional office environment. With the number of remote workers expected to rise even higher in the future, there’s clearly a need for good temporary workspaces. What are your options?

Think About What You Need

The thing that most often keeps me from being productive is the availability of social media. To write, I need somewhere quiet, and in less research-intensive stages of an article, to be totally offline. For you, it might be a more inspiring view than you get from your home office window, or a place that doesn’t serve you pastries all day long.

So, when on a mission to find places to work from, think about what raises or drops your efficiency, and go from there. Throughout the Wi-fi scavenger hunt of my time freelancing around the world, I’ve tried the following options for new remote workspaces.

Hotel Lobbies

One of my favorite places for working remotely is hotel lobbies. Much quieter than most of the alternatives, they usually come with fast Wi-fi, and often the ability to print or fax. If the wireless network is locked down, it shouldn’t be too hard to get someone to tell you the password (or if necessary, pay for an access code).

While lobbies are often more comfortable than coffee shops, they’re more expensive when it comes to food and drinks. Also, they’re not ideal for working in regularly — you’ll want to switch locations frequently, so staff don’t catch on.

Other People’s Homes

If you’re traveling and in need of a quiet place to get work done, consider housesitting! Popular sites for finding homes and/or pets to look after are trustedhousesitters.com and nomador.com. If you want to make sure that the Wi-fi suits your needs, ask for a screenshot of a speed test in advance.

Working remotely - house-sitting

I’m currently house- and pet-sitting in Bali, and the Wi-fi is better than anywhere else around.

Libraries and Museums

A lot of public institutions now offer free Wi-fi, and can be perfect for working remotely.

By design, libraries are quiet places to get serious work done, usually with plenty of space available. The advanced version of this is “the secret world of membership libraries“, cool places to work from in cultural centers, often beautifully designed, and costing only a fraction of a co-working space.

Meanwhile, you can also try to find places to work from in museums. Many have either some kind of public area with tables, or just offer free admission to the whole building. After-work hours were never quite so educational!

University Campuses

If you happen to be a student and your university is part of this network, connecting to eduroam is a Wi-fi dream come true. I’ve surprisingly even found it at a few airports. It’s currently in about 90 countries worldwide.

Otherwise, some universities offer guest admission to their wireless networks, and student unions and other places around campus usually have lounges or open classrooms where you can sit comfortably and get work done.

Working remotely - campus

Malls

Malls often provide free Wi-fi, and with food courts usually empty on weekdays outside meal times, there’s often enough space to spread a little. The perpetual mix of noise, smells and movement can be distracting, but if they don’t bother you, this is a great free option.

Other Public Spaces

There are plenty of other public spaces for working remotely. Many local governments provide free Wi-fi in parks, or even entire downtown areas. If the signal is too weak, a wireless range extender is a cheap, easy fix. So, on the next sunny day, grab your devices and go find a nice picnic table!

Working remotely - park

For example, I worked a couple of times from Sacker Park in Jerusalem.

Cafes and Bars

Despite their popularity as workspaces, it’s not always easy to track down the perfect cafe or bar to spend a few hours knocking over deadlines. A couple of apps, though, make all the difference.

Download and install WorkFrom or CafeWifi to help find the best spots for your needs. They show important details like Wi-fi speeds and power socket availability, and sometimes even information about happy hours and parking.

Co-working Spaces

If you need a fully-equipped office away from home, co-working spaces are the way to go. You can typically choose between different plans, depending on the facilities you want and how long you need them for. With most spaces offering communal areas, it’s also a good opportunity to get to know other local freelancers and entrepreneurs.

Working remotely - co-working space

To help find your perfect space, check out the following apps and websites:

  • The above-mentioned app WorkFrom also lets you search for co-working spaces. Signing up is free, with listings in over 1,900 cities around the world.
  • If you’re in search of a short-term professional location, e.g. for meetings or photo shoots, Breather offers exactly that. At the moment, though, you can currently only find them in ten cities in the US, Canada and UK.
  • LiquidSpace helps you find a variety of places to work from, for as long as you need. Signing up is free, and pricing for spaces depends on the individual location.
  • Loop membership costs $30/month, and gives access to more than 160 co-working spaces in 40+ countries around the world. The pass comes with a day of free access to each space per month. Prices for further individual day passes vary, with a current promotion giving two free months of Loop membership when you buy one.
  • On coworker you can look up coworking spaces around the world and specifically search for daily, weekly or monthly memberships. More filters allow you to focus on ergonomic chairs, pet-friendliness, or (most importantly) free beer.

Wireless Hotspots

A last option is to just take the Internet with you wherever you need it.

The easiest way to do so is getting a local SIM card, and either tether from your phone or use a MiFi (mobile Wi-fi device). For short-term or urgent needs for Internet access, this can be a life saver.

 

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Working on the Move

Especially around North American and Europe, more and more public transport options come with Wi-fi, free or otherwise. Got a flight or a long train or bus ride ahead? No problem.

The same goes for airports and train stations. While the Internet might not be necessarily fast, you can often find a quiet(ish) corner to sit down and type away for a while. If you’re flying a lot and want to make best use of your layovers, a Priority Pass gets you access to 1000+ airport lounges around the world.

Working remotely - traveling

Ready to Start Working Remotely?

If you know where you’re going, search other people’s blog posts about their co-working experiences in that city. If you’re completely flexible on your destination, but want to make sure it’s remote-worker friendly, enter your criteria on nomadlist. It will offer up your best options, rated by like-minded people around the world.

What are some of the best, or most unusual, places you’ve found to work from on the road?

Images via picjumbo (café laptop), Eloise Ambursley (co working space), author (other images)

It's not always easy to find good places to work when you're in an unfamiliar city. Here's how to do it.
About the Author

Christina Winkler

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Christina is a tech-loving psychologist from Germany, who does her origin justice by passionately exploring any local beer she can get her hands on. A dangerous mix of curiosity and clumsiness leading her on (mis)adventures around the world, she writes about her experiences, reflections and the psychology of travel on her blog Birdwinks.

Comments

  1. This is a very helpful piece for all those who would like to start freelancing
    I can just add my own place or even that of my grandparents, if they have installed Wi-Fi. It is a good opportunity to spend some quality time with them, but also get work done. Plus, grandma’s home cooked food!
    In Goa, I had the opportunities to work in open restaurants with sand beneath my feet and the ocean greeting me whenever I needed a creative break.

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