The phrase “working from home” conjures up a picture of a person literally working from their home office, but that’s not always the case. Telecommuting, remote work, and virtual office are probably more appropriate terms because they offer the idea that people who work from home can also work from a variety of other locations. And of course, Digital Nomad is the ultimate term for location-less workers who can set up shop wherever they happen to be at the moment.
Whether you work primarily from home, or are always changing location, here are six alternative workspaces to consider.
These are professionally-managed office spaces and are most often found in major cities throughout the U.S. and the world. If you need a truly professional alternative to your home office, this is the option for you. A rental fee gives you access to high-speed internet, phones, printers, fax machines, large-screen monitors, and other office gadgets. You can either rent space at a communal table, a cubicle, or a private office depending on your needs. In the U.S., you can locate coworking spaces through websites.
Long-known as a refuge for the at-home worker, coffee shops are an obvious choice for anyone looking to get out of the house for a few hours of caffeine-fueled work. Be aware of busy times because it can hard be to find a table during the morning and afternoon rushes, and don’t forget to purchase a coffee or scone every couple hours. Coffee shops are, after all, businesses which won’t exist without our patronage.
Depending on your location, public libraries can be fantastic places to work as a digital nomad. They provide just enough background noise and human interaction to make them more interesting than your empty home, and being surrounded by so much paper-based technology gives your brain a rest from all the gadgets it’s normally confronted with. The biggest advantage is that these spaces are completely free (no need to buy the obligatory cup of joe), and include free WiFi.
I have a friend who has managed, in one year, to work from Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, St. Louis, San Francisco, and a variety of other locations across the country because 1) he’s a telecommuter and 2) he has lots of friends who live in interesting places. If you’re able to travel, take advantage of your ability to work from anywhere and go see some friends. You’ll (hopefully) get a few free days of room and board, catch up with friends, make some fun memories, and continue to get your work done.
Independent bookstores, but also the big-box stores, are great places to retreat for a few hours of work. Voracious readers can strike up a relationship with employees to learn about new books worth reading while also keeping up with work. Like a coffee shop, you’ll want to make sure you spend a little bit of money every time you work from a bookstore. Even if you buy a new book every day, it’s still probably cheaper than renting a coworking space.
If you find yourself in a new place, unsure of where to go for WiFi and good workspaces, college libraries are ideal. Most have agreements with their town or city to be opened to the public as well as to their own students, and they’re often open much earlier or later than other alternative workspaces. Check with the front desk before settling into a cubicle in the corner to make sure their internet is accessible to the public and not just to students with special logins.
Readers, what are your favorite non-home locations for work? Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever telecommuted from?
Brie Weiler Reynolds is the Director of Content and Community at FlexJobs, the award-winning site for telecommuting, flexible schedule, and freelance job listings. For over four years, Brie has been telecommuting full-time as she and her husband move around the country, and she offers career, telecommuting, and work-life balance advice through the FlexJobs Blog and social media. Find her on Twitter @FlexJobs.