The workforce is changing. More people are going freelance than ever before, and even those that stay hitched to the corporate lifestyle are being allowed unprecedented flexibility in terms of hours and work environments. The fact is, we don’t need to be in an office cubicle anymore to get our work done. Mobile technology enables us to work anywhere.
Some places, however, are better ad hoc offices that others. Here are a few of our favorites.
1. Co-Working Space
Need a conference room, but only one day out of the month? Want to be independent, but not totally isolated from humanity? A co-working space might be perfect for you. Many such places have flexible packages for people who only want a few days or hours at a time, and all offer the chance to strike a balance between the office and the coffee shop.
And speaking of coffee shops, there’s always Starbucks. Thanks to a fairly recent shift to free Wi-Fi, and their famously ubiquitous locations, Starbucks is the office away from office for many mobile workers. You no longer need to be a customer of a specific mobile provider or pay a fee to use the internet at Starbucks. You might, however, want to pack some earplugs, as noise levels are unpredictable. (Especially when school gets out, or office workers are dropping by for their morning java.)
3. Independent Coffee Shops
Despite Starbucks’ world takeover, most cities and many small towns still have non-chain coffee shops. The upside to these is that they offer a more creative, indie vibe than the big corporate chains. The downside is that their Wi-Fi is often also creative and indie — which is to say, unreliable. This obviously varies from store to store, but it’s always worth asking about before you settle in for a long morning of flickering internet. While you’re at it, make sure to check up on Wi-Fi fees and time limits.
4. The Library
Libraries have entered the age of the Kindle and the iPad, offering free internet and a quiet place to work for everyone from students to business people. The only caveat is that you probably will not be allowed to drink coffee or eat muffins at your “desk.” But on the other hand, you will have a professional shush-er to keep the noise levels down to a minimum.
5. Restaurants and Bars
Many establishments now offer free internet to their customers, and it’s nice to be able to wrap up your work for the day with a beer and some nachos. The potential downsides here have probably already occurred to you: alcohol and/or greasy food is not always such a great combination with either productivity or your laptop. Plus, a lot of places won’t be thrilled if you settle in for three hours during the dinner rush. But for an hour or so, just for a change of scene, your local bar and grill might be just the ticket.