Many people dream of the ability to work from anywhere, and imagine themselves telecommuting from a condo in Thailand one month and cafe hopping in London the next.
But for most telecommuters, work happens in less exotic places. Many have a home office, which is convenient, but can be lonely and full of too many distractions like children, pets or TV. Some take their laptop to coffee shops, but there's no guarantee that an empty table will be available. Plus, ordering the same drink from the same shop every day can start to feel like a rut.
Luckily, there are other places to cowork, and some include perks like drinks, snacks, high-speed WiFi, storage, meeting spaces and the chance to collaborate with others, all for less than a typical office rental.
Some restaurant owners are welcoming coworkers with special accommodations, such as Boccato, a coffee shop in Arlington, Virginia. The shop has a reserved area called CoworkCafe, which is open on weekdays from 8:30 AM to 6 PM. During this time, members work comfortably from desks, tables or couches, enjoy a steady stream of coffee, sandwiches and gelato, and draw inspiration from others.
The cafe also offers high-speed WiFi, office supplies, mailboxes, conference space and phone booths for private conversations. A monthly membership at CoworkCafe costs $150, which includes a $50 food credit (many coworking spaces in Arlington cost at least twice as much).
CoworkCafe prides itself on being affordable, but also for providing an environment that is conducive to productivity. "Having a place that’s relaxed and comfortable is very good for creative type work," cofounder David James says. "There’s a certain feeling that you get in a place like this you can’t get in an office-type building. They really love the feeling of the space; they don’t want to be in a traditional office setting."
For those who live in New York, the company Spacious has turned some high-end restaurants into coworking spaces during the day. Membership is $95 a month and includes access to all Spacious locations, WiFi, coffee, tea and meeting space. The company currently has plans to expand to Los Angeles, San Francisco and London.
2. Hotel Lobbies
With free WiFi, access to beverages and comfortable tables and couches, hotel lobbies can be an excellent coworking environment. Some hotels even welcome coworkers, since they make the lobby appear lively and popular.
The most famous hotel lobby for coworking is that of the Ace Hotel, which is a haven for tech entrepreneurs, designers, writers and other professionals, due to its creative and social atmosphere. People work side-by-side at long tables equipped with outlets and desk lamps, bouncing ideas off of each other. Others keep their eyes on their own screen and use earbuds to drown out the chatter.
Not all hotel lobbies have such a welcoming, collaborative atmosphere, so you may need to try out a few before settling on your new coworking spot. WiFi can also be hit and miss, so you'll want to test it out or visit Hotel WiFi Test to find the hotels with the fastest WiFi near you.
3. Coworking Spaces
Designated coworking spaces are popping up all over the world, and give coworkers the opportunity to connect with designers, engineers, writers and other professionals, with amenities once only thought possible at Google.
Enjoy events like communal breakfasts, lunch-and-learns and happy hours at The Coop in Chicago, or relax in the Japanese Zen Garden at Coco in Minneapolis. Women many prefer HeraHub in San Diego and D.C., a spa-inspired coworking space for female professionals only, where aromatic candles, soft music and chair massages provide the ultimate in relaxed work environments.
For those who don't want to shell out $50-$350 a month, some coworking spaces like Gangplank in Arizona are free, as long as you participate in projects that help out the community as well as fellow members. Seats2Meet offers free coworking spaces around the world, with the promise that you'll use your expertise to help others.
If you crave variety and don't want to commit to a single space, try CoPass, where you can work in a different workspace everyday with one monthly membership.
4. The Mall
With plenty of seating, plentiful food and beverage options and free WiFi, the mall is emerging as a new coworking hotspot. Since most of the foot traffic occurs on the evenings and weekends, you may be pleasantly surprised how quiet it can be during the workweek.
Westfield Corp recently capitalized on this trend by building a designated coworking, event and technology demo space called Bespoke at their San Francisco mall. The coworking area includes desks, open workspace and private offices, as well as a rock climbing wall, a bocce ball court and a library with sleep nooks. Membership fees start at $395 a month for a shared desk.
Bespoke is the first coworking space in a U.S. shopping mall, but similar spaces exist in other parts of the world, such as Multispace at the Astana Mall in Kazakhstan and centers operated by Space&Co in Australia.
5. Vacations and Retreats
For those looking for more adventure in their work environment, there are many vacations and retreats that cater to coworkers. With Remote Year, 75 professionals travel the world together while working remotely. The group visits one new city a month for a year, including Prague, London, Kuala Lumpur and Buenos Aires. If you're looking for a smaller commitment, Hacker Paradise offers trips that last 2 to 12 weeks at a time.
Located on the side of a mountain in the Himalayas, the Pankhasari Retreat in West Bengal, India may be the most remote area you can work in. Construction is currently underway for the complex, which will include residential, business, sports and farming facilities. It may be surrounded by waterfalls and high up in the Himalayas, but the planners are promising internet at “guaranteed broadband speeds.”
Whether you're looking for a free and comfortable place to work, top-of-the-line amenities or the ability to brainstorm with like-minded individuals, there's a coworking place to fit your needs. And if you choose to jet-set around the world for a year, you may be happy to return to a familiar workplace: home.