Saturday, 29 March 2008

Alternative working spaces

My company is based in Christchurch, where about 12 of our staff work in the main office. The rest of us (25+) work remotely from wherever we live, so I work from home in Wellington and love it.

I met some friends (former colleagues) for coffee and a catchup at Astoria this morning and came home to blog about the café. They'd asked if I missed the contact of having people around me at work; I don't, as I still come into contact with lots of people through my job, but I also make a point of going out most evenings and in the weekend to avoid being 'at work' 24/7. As I was looking up Astoria's website (there isn't one), I came across this post by someone who also works from home, but bases himself at Astoria on Wednesdays each week to keep in contact with the outside world. This really got me thinking.

When my out-of-town colleagues are in Wellington, we sometimes meet at a café (or the airport) for a couple of hours to touch base and work collaboratively. It's great to know you can still be highly productive while working anywhere, any time.

Pros for working at a café for one day a week:
  • It would make sure you get out of the house for a decent length of time. Dashing to the supermarket, putting out the washing, or checking your mailbox does not count as leaving the house.
  • Others can meet or work with you without you having to feel bad about not getting the housework done.
  • A change (of scenery) is as good as a break, or so they say.
  • Good food, great coffee - what better way to promote productivity?
Cons for working at a café for one day a week:
  • Cafénet is great but, let's face it, expensive. I use it occasionally, but couldn't keep paying for it each week.
  • The constant chatter and noise would make it near-impossible to conduct audio meetings or phone calls.
  • People who think you're not really working, but just sitting around drinking coffee and therefore available to chat all day. (They think the same about me working from home. "Don't you get tempted to just watch TV all day?" Heck, I watch 2 hours of TV a week, if I'm lucky enough to find time for it!!)
Things to think about about if working at a café for one day a week:
  • You'd have to choose a place with really good coffee. Despite all the hype, Astoria just doesn't do it for me.
  • You'd have to be good at dodging mums with pre-schoolers during the day (I'm thinking Maranui, here.).
  • Free all-day parking is a must. That pretty much rules out most of town.
  • The café would have to be happy having you adopt a table for a whole day while existing on a couple of coffees, lunch, and gallons of free iced water. Some might.
What do you think? Does anyone else have a 'local' office away from home?

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