Tired of your workplace? Here are some ideas for places that might stimulate your creativity, help you get focused and more productive.
We operate a freelance marketplace site, Conyac, and hear from a lot of freelancers about their work arrangements. It seems there is no single answer to finding the perfect environment, so we thought to share what our community uses.
1. Home Offices
For people living alone, home offices have the advantage that they can be in full control of their environment and set it up just as they like. For those with partners, children, or pets, a home office can allow them to get some work done while still being accessible to those who depend on them. If you don’t have a spare room, perhaps you can find a comfortable corner of your home where you can set up.
Here are some ideas:
Sitting or Standing: Both modes of working can be tiring. Ideally, you would alternate between the two. For extra variety, try a balance ball while sitting.
Seat Height: If you’re going to sit, it should be at a height where your legs are at ninety degrees or slightly more. This allows your pelvis to be level.
Monitor Height: Whether standing or sitting, you ideally want the top of your monitor to be at eye height. If you have a laptop, consider getting an external monitor. It might need something to stand on to reach the ideal height. This will deter you from hunching over and developing neck pain.
Light: Natural light can help keep your spirits up, but you want to avoid glare on your screen.
Acoustics: Some people need music, others prefer silence. Either way, it’s ideal if you are in control of the acoustics of your environment, although this can be difficult if you live with others. Experiment with headphones or earbuds. Some find that playing white noise (various tracks available free on YouTube) helps them tune out the noise around them.
Arrangement: Most people find that a minimalist approach helps them focus. That said, make the space yours by adding things that bring you joy such as plants or memorabilia.
Many people find that their home has too many distractions (people, pets, etc.), temptations (food, TV, etc.), or can feel lonely if they live by themselves. Below, we’ll explore places you might consider when you need a change of scene.
2. Coworking Spaces
There are a wide variety of coworking spaces around the world that have risen to the challenge of serving the needs of freelancers, nomad workers, and remote workers. Some independently run coworking facilities can be quite basic, while chains such as WeWork offer a range of features, services, and options. For those who can afford their fees, the benefits of working from a coworking space can include the following.
Designed for Work:
It may not be feasible for you to set up a home office and the other options in your area may be crowded, noisy, have poor wifi, and have time limits.
Coworking spaces are designed from the ground up for working, so you shouldn’t have any issues once you’ve joined and settled in.
Networking & Socializing:
Coworking spaces allow you to meet other occupants. They might become friends, partners, or clients.
Some facilities hold regular events to facilitate networking.
WeWork even acquired Meetup to enhance this process.
If you need to host meetings with partners or clients, a coworking space may provide an attractive space that you can reserve ahead of time.
Some even allow you to host events.
Some freelancers take the step of getting incorporated as a company. Coworking spaces sometimes allow their address to be registered as the company’s official office address.
Some libraries make ideal places for working. You get a clean and quiet environment with other people around you who are usually focused on something, so it encourages you to get focused too. If they offer decent seating, wifi, and no restrictions, you might find it to be a good fit.
However, you’ll need to check the rules for each library. They may have time limits, and they may not allow people who don’t live in the municipality which the library serves. University libraries generally require that you are enrolled. Sometimes a library is so perfect for work that the only problem is you can never get a seat because every student and freelancer in town uses it and stays there all day.
4. Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bars, and Restaurants
I’ve grouped these together because there is such a wide variety and some have overlap.
The ideal place would have:
Great atmosphere and friendly service
Attractive and affordable options for food and drink
Free, fast, and reliable wifi with no time limits
Plentiful electric outlets available for free use
No restrictions or issues with your staying for extended periods
Clean restrooms that are usually unoccupied
Open from early morning to late at night
In reality, it’s quite rare for a place to tick all the boxes in the list above. Most people find that their local venues only serve as a change of scene for doing a couple of hours of work. This is the reason why coworking spaces were invented.
5. Hotel Lobbies
It goes without saying that if you’re traveling, you’ll consider your hotel’s lobby as an option for working. However, not all provide the ideal environment. If you’re not staying in the hotel, then their staff may not take kindly to your using their lobby as a workplace. You might get away with it once for an hour or so, but generally, they will be keeping an eye on people on their facilities for security reasons.
You can still make use of any cafe, bar, or restaurant on premises and ask if it’s ok if you stay for a couple of hours to do some work after finishing your meal and drinks. Most won’t mind as long as you’ve spent some money. In this case, you’re in the same situation as above.
6. Convenience Stores, Gas Stations
Generally, not a particularly attractive place to work, but some convenience stores and gas stations do offer some kind of seating for people who want to consume food or drink bought there. They usually have free wifi, and you can stay for a couple of hours. You might consider stopping in to do a bit of work if you need a change of scene or to kill some time between appointments.
Even those of us who have the perfect work environment at home sometimes long for a change of scenery and social interaction. Whether you’re a freelancer, digital nomad, or business owner, hopefully, one or more of the categories above will match with a decent option in your area.
If you’d like to share your experiences or ask questions, feel free to join our freelancer community forum or leave a comment below.
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