When you are a solopreneur or freelancer, investing in a office space can usher in an unwelcome amount of overhead costs, which can ultimately drag down the profits of your business. Some of us have the resources to put together a secluded home office, but that doesn’t stop our home environment from being full of setbacks to productivity and distractions.
Anybody who has worked from home knows how difficult it can be. When you are actually able to focus, you can often get you tasks done in half the time it would have taken you somewhere else, because you are in your element with all of your necessary resources surrounding you. But I know from experience that I tend to become blasé about the home office, especially when I have already worked a full shift at my day job and am coming home to relax.
Leaving the home office during your workday can help you to develop strong business routines, such as waking up on time, dressing in a way that helps you take yourself seriously as a business owner and entrepreneur, and keeping to a task schedule. In addition to good routines, the freshness of a public workspace can help to give you new inspiration, jog you from your normal ways of thinking, spark creativity, and help you to build valuable networks with other locals.
So where do we all go to escape the home office? Say what you will about the coffee shop cliché, but for some, the locally owned coffee shop—that cultivates its regulars and hand-selects its tea menu—is among the crowning achievements of the public space. But you didn’t click here for me to tell you that. You already knew that. Instead, here are six public workspace alternatives:
Shared Workspaces or Co-Working Spaces
Shared workspaces, sometimes known as co-working spaces, have been popping up all over metropolitan areas. They are physical office spaces that are shared by multiple people but on an individual basis. They are often stocked with amazing Wifi, snacks, and printing technology.
In addition to office necessities, many of these shared spaces have excellent perks, such as coffee shops and bakeries located in the facility, outdoor workspaces, gyms and yoga studios, rooms for events, mentorships, proximity to venture capitalists, bus passes, showers, and lockers. These amenities really depend on the space’s management and their target tenants. One of the largest draws of the co-working can be the chance they offer to network with other professionals.
Most of these co-working offices charge a monthly rate and have a few levels of membership, depending on whether you need a private office or just a desk in the larger spaces provided. This would be useful for someone who doesn’t mind paying a little bit more in order to have an office environment around them. Most co-working spaces have conference rooms for rent too, which would be a more professional alternative to a home-office or coffee shop meeting with clients and investors
The Public Library
When’s the last time you went to the library? If you’re a Millennial, it might not have been too long ago. Statistics from the Pew Research Center found that Millennials are the largest demographic of library users. What do Millennials know that others are missing?
Libraries are stocked with fast Wifi, paid printing capabilities, coffee in most cases, quiet corners, desks and carrels, and access to more newspapers, periodicals, and journals than any one person can afford to have delivered to their home. So if you’re in the midst of a project that needs new life, inspiration, or research, the library might be the best place to go.
Most libraries will keep up on the most booming industries of their area and order new trending books and periodicals according to that demand. So if you work a city known for its technological startups, chances are the library will not only have the best tech magazine subscriptions, but it will also pre-order the latest books to come out on the subject. Plus, the public library is free, so long as your aren’t racking up late fees.
A quiet cafe that doesn’t get much lunchtime traffic
Cafes and restaurants that aren’t known for their quick lunchtime bites aren’t going to get a lot of lunch business traffic during the work-week. You’re right to avoid the usual in-town sandwich shop that everyone will drop by between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. for their workday lunch. But that quiet cafe that everyone goes to for dinner, but doesn’t draw a lunchtime crowd would probably be glad of your patronage. Stopping in once or twice might feel a little awkward, but becoming a regular with them could be very rewarding. Just make sure to tip well, be courteous, and eat light if that’s better for your productivity.
Bar, Pub, or Brewery
I find that craft breweries are great venues for work. They tend to incorporate a lot of wood into taproom design, giving a sense of warmth and coziness. They also offer a laid back, trendy environment, with good menus that frequently feature small plates for those who like to graze while they work.
Having a beer or a glass of wine while working, as long as it doesn’t inhibit basic functions, can allow you to think of things in a more creative way. It might even take the edge off of those cold pitches you have to send, or those proposals that you’ve been nervous about tackling. Just be sure to double check and proofread everything you send out.
Many bars these days offer Wifi, and during the daytime you’ll have room to spread out on a high top or a bench seat with your computer and folders, which is more than a lot of cramped coffee shops can offer. Remember to be courteous to the bartenders, and you might even be doted on as a regular.
I once took an art history class with a very cunning teacher. For writing assignments, she would send us to the local museum to actually observe the work that we chose to write about. For her, this forced student engagement. For me, it gave me a fondness of the art museum as a place of work. To this day, I can’t recall what the different positions each sculpted Buddha’s hands mean, but I do remember that the museum was a great place to write an essay: quiet, reverent, full of both open spaces and hidden corners, with food and coffee nearby, and lots of unoccupied seating during the workweek.
For many of us, doing work in a museum would be an extreme change of pace. It could be just the thing you need to jump out of your normal thinking patterns and embrace working a little differently. I would recommend this to those who are often inspired by visual design, and wide open, quiet, indoor spaces. The museum would be an especially good fit for the worker who likes to think through things by walking around a little bit, before, after, or in between tasks.
What are some of your favorite public places to work in?