The 6 Best Non-Coffee-Shop Sites for Remote Work
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While working from home may sound like utopia — wearing sweats or yoga pants all day, skipping the morning traffic, being able to make your own meals and take your dog out for a walk — the home environment doesn’t always make for the most productive workplace. I run my branding and marketing agency out of a home office and probably have too much discipline as an entrepreneur (i.e. I rarely work from a couch and never my bed, unless I’m sick), but I’ve heard far too many stories about colleagues getting distracted by chores and their inability to focus. Others who work from home suffer from loneliness, which is one reason for why coffee shops have become a remote-office destination.
While coffee shops will draw you in with their Wi-Fi, pastries and flavored, caffeinated creations, I tend to find them distracting and inefficient due to crowds, loud conversations and the lack of electrical outlets. That's why I've compiled a cheat sheet of six places I’ve found to be more productive than a coffee shop that won’t cost you $6 per latte.
I begin with outdoor locations because fresh air boosts productivity and is good for our moods. According to Joseph G. Allen, assistant professor and director of the Healthy Buildings program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, air quality in your office affects your employees’s productivity. His studies reveal a direct relationship between fresh air and a worker’s ability to process information, make key decisions and tackle challenges.
I love hotel lobbies. If you pick the right ones, they are ample, have beautiful couches and chairs and tend to be fairly quiet. These type of settings can be really cozy and inspiring, as our senses are invigorated with different scenery, smells and music. Hotels also tend to have strong Wi-Fi, a business center in the building (if you need to print something), and you can typically help yourself to a glass of spa water. And if you get hungry, there's always the hotel restaurant or bar.
For real. Who said you had to drink coffee? Some of my best work has been done relaxing late afternoon with a glass of wine. And yes, just one. Unlike a crowded coffee shop, a bar can be fairly empty in the afternoon. And as opposed to encountering the 2 p.m. afternoon slump that's caused by circadian rhythms, lack of movement and perhaps too large of a lunch, an out-of-the-ordinary beer in the afternoon may inspire some creative juices to flow while chilling you out. Breaking habitual ruts and doing something different tends to cause us to think differently. And if you’re not quite ready for alcohol or are driving, bars always have soda and even mocktails. My favorites include a virgin mojito or a kombucha, which some bars have on tap. Just look for a bar that offers good lighting, and a good happy hour menu never hurts.
Libraries or College Campuses
When I need absolute silence, I like to find libraries or even a college campus. These locations offer great Wi-Fi and an environment where others are studying. If the library is just too quiet or reminiscent of college days, campuses are brimming with quiet coffee shops, courtyards and working spaces where you’ll find other students working.
I kid you not. I once had an incredibly effective four-hour work block from a table at Nordstrom’s at 1:30 in the afternoon. The store was fairly empty on a weekday, Wi-Fi was fantastic, and the bathrooms were accessible and clean. When I needed a snack, I went over to the Nordstrom’s café. Malls and retail centers tend to have good open workspaces, open courtyards for getting fresh air and sunshine, restaurants, bars and, most important, a change of scenery. Just exercise discipline and promise yourself not to go shopping until your work is complete, as it will cost you much more than a latte.
Anywhere in Airplane Mode
Rather than watch movies, I’m the one on the plane who embraces the opportunity to accomplish some of my most challenging projects and deadlines in flight since I'm confined to a seat and, at times, without Wi-Fi (unless you consider airplane Wi-Fi good Wi-Fi). I want the flight to go by quickly, so I open up my computer and crank as fast and as efficiently as possible, given minimal distractions. When I am unable to focus in any work environment on land, I apply my “Airplane Mode,” which means I shut my alerts off, put my to-do lists aside, confine myself to a space and set a timer. How can you apply this? Get yourself set up with everything you need, limit walking around (standing up to stretch is okay), get off your phone and just crank. This pretend airplane mode is one way of making yourself more “indistractable,” as Nir Eyal teaches us.
When we work from home, we can be less productive if we don’t adopt a routine. It’s important to stick to a schedule, have a good working space and create a work environment that sets you up for success. If you begin to find your home environment is sucking your productivity, try changing the configuration of your workspace, investing in a standing desk, ensuring you have good lighting and temperature in your room, and perhaps even try different music or an essential oil. Most important though is to teach yourself to keep distractions at bay and get your work done, be it at home or wherever your laptop takes you. And if it’s the latte that truly lures you to the coffee shop, invest in some good beans, an espresso maker or a simple $15 frother.