Best Free Places To Work Remotely To Get Shit Done

SUMMARY POINTS

> Home office & cafes are obvious top go-to spots
> Explore hidden workspace gems in your neighborhood
> Plan ahead and do site checks beforehand

So if you’re reading this, we’re guessing that you’re one of the lucky few that’s allowed to work remotely - whether it’s on a temporary or permanent basis.

We’re really envious. Only a few of us have this privilege and it’s a really nice one too.

No fighting traffic.
No crowded train rides.
No business attire.
No stale recirculated air.
No in-person meetings.
No wasting fuel.

The list goes on. This is the best list of “no’s” ever.

Now, the question is where can or should you work remotely?

We all dream of working remotely from some tropical beach with an ice-cold fruit cocktail in hand. If only our employer was Star Trek, life would be so much nicer.

“Scotty, beam us to Bali for the day!”

But, this is the real world and you actually need to work and get shit done.

We put this list together with the following criteria:
- Climate controlled (A/C or heat)
- Indoors to avoid weather issues
- Free or very inexpensive
- WiFi accessible
- Tables/chairs
- Reasonably quiet

So, here are several obvious and some not so obvious remote work sites to consider.

1. Home Office

This is the most obvious one and easiest. Just roll outta bed, get freshened up, put a pot of coffee on and stroll over to your computer and power up.

Your commute is only a few steps away - glorious.

And while it’s great not having to change into work clothes, we say get out of the PJs and into a normal casual outfit. It helps to get your mindset on track and prevent the backslide into the bed.

This guy’s got the right idea - well almost.

VIDEO: Travel Wise Funny Telecommute Commercial
YOUTUBE: Savvy Productions
LENGTH: 0:30

"Strictly business up top, chillax to the max down below"...love it!

Anyway, getting back to the topic, it’s best if you have a home office set-up in a dedicated room, but not all of us have that luxury. Sometimes, we’ve got to set-up in the kitchen, on the dining table or create a makeshift space in the living room.

The key is to get seated and set-up in a comfortable and quiet place with minimal distractions and get down to work. However, for some of us, there’s yammering kids, barking dog, noisy neighborhood and the lure of the TV, couch or bed etc.

If you need to get away from the distractions at home, try the other options on this list.

2. Hotel Lobby

(Credit: Courtyard by Marriott)

This one isn’t on most people’s radar. Hotel lobbies, particularly the national chains, are all great places to work remotely.

Marriott International Inc. is now the largest hotel company in the world. It purchased Starwood Hotels & Resorts to form a mega-monster hotel conglomerate. One of their hotel brands should be within a reasonable distance from your house.

We really like Courtyard brand hotels. They are very business traveler friendly with lobbies that offer bright and clean workspaces with outlets all around plus a cafe. We love the mini couch cubicles they have - a perfect place to get some work done.

It’s a good idea to sign-up for their member rewards program. It’s free and since they are the largest hotel chain in the world, you’re bound to stay at one of their hotels at some point in the future.

By becoming a member, you’ll be welcomed moreso than a random person walking in and using their facilities. Just walk up to the front desk and let them know you’re a member and that you need to do some work in the lobby. Most all places we’ve visited don’t have any issue with this.

Generally, they all have free WiFi in the lobby along with comfy chairs and in many instances, desks or mini tables. Many also have mini business centers with computers and a printer, but those are really for guests to do some light work and/or print airline boarding passes. You’ll have your own laptop anyway, so that’s not much of a concern.

Next, there’s usually a cafe and restrooms nearby. And in most cases, it’s not an issue to leave your stuff on the table while you go for a cup of coffee or a bathroom break.

There’s always business travelers milling about in these lobbies, so you’ll blend in perfectly and it helps you get into and stay in the right mindset.

3. Coffee Shop

There are tens of thousands of cafes all over the world. Just between Starbucks and McDonald's, they got nearly every city on this planet covered. Although, we really wouldn't consider McDonald's a cafe, they do serve decent blue-collar coffee.

Add in the other major coffee chains plus your neighborhood independent cafes and you're bound to have at least a few good choices right in your backyard.

Now, this option isn’t truly free unless you want to be “that guy” who doesn’t buy anything but hogs up space and mooches WiFi for free. So, technically, it can be free, but c’mon...don't be an ass. Support the business and buy a tasty cup of joe.

After all, you do need that little kick-start to the day. Hell, even Spider-Man needs a little boost to start his day.

VIDEO: Spider-Man Pranks People at a Coffee Shop
YOUTUBE: Sony Pictures Entertainment
LENGTH: 1:40

Some of us thrive in a coffee shop environment. You’ve got your frou-frou latte in hand, an ideal working spot next to the outlet and the WiFi signal is super strong.

And, it’s got just the right amount of busyness sounds to keep us alert but not so much that it’s distracting.

The hissing, brewing, pouring and stirring sounds from behind the counter along with side conversations drifting in-n-out of your hearing range can be an ideal mix.

However, for some of us, coffee shops can be just too noisy and may interfere with work focus.

If so, check out your local public museum’s cafe. These museum cafes typically don’t see the same type of high foot traffic like normal cafes. So, the noises should be a bit more subdued.

These museum cafes are usually open to the public and just adjacent to the museum. 

4. Local Community College

Why not re-live your days as a college student?

Surrounding yourself with young eager students may bring out your youthful spirit or it may make you feel old. It’s all a matter of perspective and position.

None of us will fool anyone into thinking we’re students, but hey, “visiting professor” sounds kinda cool, right?

So, pack your laptop, power cord, mouse, headphones, etc into your backpack and head to the student union center or any one of the many open study spots scattered throughout campus. You’ll need to do some pre-work in searching for some ideal spots on campus.

Check the class schedules and if there’s an empty classroom, jump in and get settled. You’ll have the entire room to yourself and you’ll not only have peace and quiet but also the freedom to make/take phone calls as needed.

5. Auto Dealership

(Credit: Trend VW via Yelp)

This is another option that few ever think about. If you’ve ever gotten your car serviced at a newer dealership, you’ll notice that they often have a customer lounge area and if you’re at a really big dealership, they might even have a full service cafe.

Go check out your local auto dealership where you get your car serviced and this time, really take a good look around and see what’s there.

In some dealerships, they’ll have little cubby workstations for customers (just like in the above photo) to work while their vehicle is getting serviced.

Next, look beyond the customer lounge area and into the main showroom floor. In some cases, the dealership may have empty offices or cubicles.

These are golden spots because there isn’t much noise or people milling around in the main showroom during the day as folks don’t typically shop for cars during the weekday.

As a courtesy, it’s a good idea to let the management know that you're a customer and that you’re just looking for a place to work for the day.

As long as you’ve been getting your car worked on by the dealership, they won’t mind one bit.

6. Visitor/Vendor Meeting Rooms

If you’ve got a friend that works for a larger company, ask him or her if their lobby has visitor/vendor meeting rooms. Many of these bigger corporations will have dedicated meeting spaces that are in the lobby area so that visitors and vendors stay outside of the internal offices for confidentiality purposes.

On those days that you need a place to work, reach out to your friend and be that visitor or vendor. Have him or her sign you in, have a quick chat, set-up WiFi access and then get settled in.

Most will have phones and WiFi available. But, double check and ask your friend ahead of time. It’s hard to get work done without an internet connection.

To return the favor, take your friend out to lunch. It’d be a nice little bonus for the both of you and will help to break up the workday.

7. Public Library

When was the last time you actually stepped into your local public library, if ever?

It’s a free resource that all of us taxpayers have funded. It’s time that you take advantage of it.

It’s naturally a quiet place. It’s got tables, desk cubbies, chairs, WiFi and power outlets. Plus, you don’t need to buy a cup of coffee and you could stay there all day for free without issue. In fact, most don’t offer any food or drinks because it’s not allowed.

The key to using the library as a remote office is to find a suitable spot that is away from the main checkout desk, restrooms and children’s area.

Hunt for that secluded section of useless reference volumes that nobody ever goes to. It’s like no-man’s land. And, if you’re lucky, there’ll be a desk cubby with an outlet within reach. This is the jackpot of quiet spots.

The only real negative point is that you really can’t take phone calls easily. You’ll have to dash out to the lobby area to talk, which can be a bit of a pain in the ass if you have a lot of conference calls scheduled.

8. Shopping Mall

Go check out your local shopping mall and take a look at the food court but this time with your working perspective.

The food court can offer ample seating and table options to get work done. Because it’s such a large public space, there isn’t so much pressure to buy something to use their facilities.

The challenge is that power outlets aren't readily accessible. So, unless you've got a long-life battery laptop, you'd only get a few hours of work in.

The other drawback with this option is that it’s not ideal for those moments that you need to use the bathroom. You can’t just leave your laptop and stuff out in the open like you can in a small cafe. Plus, the noise can be a factor too.

However, in some of the more upscale malls, they offer seating with tables along the main walkways. If you can grab one with an in-ground power outlet closeby, that will work.

If you're considering this option, just be aware that many of these malls don’t open until the mid-to-late morning. So, if you need an early start, this may not be a good option for you.

9. Municipal Golf Course Clubhouse

If Tiger Woods had an "office", the golf clubhouse is it.

This is another less known hotspot. Visit your local public golf course. Every golf course has a clubhouse of some sort with an attached cafe and/or restaurant.

These golf courses are usually quieter during the week since most people are working. It’s the weekends during the high season that are packed with golfers. And in the off-season or low-season, it’s absolutely dead. Most will close during the winter months.

If you can snag a spot by the window in the clubhouse, you’ll have a great view to alternate with your screen every so often. It's a great way to relieve eye strain.

​It's a bonus if you actually play golf. You can take a lunch time break and hit a bucket of balls at the range to get your exercise in for the day. BTW, smashing golf balls is a really great stress reliever. 😉

Be sure to check if the clubhouse area has WiFi - not all are with the program yet.

10. Neighborhood Laundromat

When was the last time you washed that huge comforter blanket? If you’ve got a remote work day planned, why not double-up on the productivity?

Get all those big bulky things that can’t fit in your own washer and dryer and take ‘em to your local laundromat.

Grab your quarters, detergent, big blankets, etc. plus your work stuff and head out.

These days, nearly all local laundry places will have WiFi. It’s a great way to keep occupied and way better than reading any of their outdated People magazine issues.

Start the wash loads then find a working spot and get settled in.

For some people, the humming background noise of the dryers or the rhythmic swishing sounds of the washing machines are the perfect ambient noise that helps to maintain mental focus.

11. Train Station Or Bus Depot

We were gonna include airports on this list, but we realized that you can’t enter the terminals or gates without a boarding pass, so we nixed that idea and came up with the next best options - train stations or bus depots.

If you’re in a major city and close to the main hub train station, you’ll discover that many of the same amenities you’d see at airport terminals are also available in main train stations lobbies. These include free WiFi, small cafes and restaurants, ample seating and in a lot of cases, tables and chairs.

The challenges we see with this is finding a reasonably quiet spot in the main area and being near power outlets. It’s not impossible. You just need to look around for that good spot.

The bus depot can be similar to train stations but for some reason, we don’t see them at the same level. Bus depots seem to be of a lower grade (ahem...ghetto) and just don’t have the same amount of amenities. But, check it out anyway. You might be surprised.

12. City Hall Or Courthouse

It’s pretty rare that any of us ever visited our local city hall. But, it may be worth a peek.

If your city hall is newer or has been recently renovated, the lobby or waiting areas might be a good spot to work from. Some may even offer community workspaces for its citizens.

And of course, most of us have done our part as jurors in court cases. Nowadays, courthouses have gotten with the act and upped their facilities to offer WiFi in the jurors waiting room and other common areas.

While you won’t be able to get into the juror waiting room, you can visit the main lobby and other adjoining areas. Some courthouse lobbies are quite well appointed while others are still stuck in the 70’s.

Check out your local city hall and courthouse websites and see what it's like. You never know - it just might be a good place to work from.

Plan Ahead & Make The Most Of The Day

One of these options should work out for you. If you’ve got the focus, discipline and right set-up, the home office is by far the best option. Outside the home, you’ve got a variety of places to check out.

Since Star Trek hasn’t shared its teleportation technology with the rest of the world, you’ll need to do some pre-work site checks.

For the less familiar locations, be sure to check their websites about amenities, look at the photos on Google maps or Yelp photos for what their work areas are like, make sure they’ve got WiFi, confirm parking arrangements (hopefully, it's free) and their hours of business.

A little prep beforehand will save you a lot of time and frustration from having to drive all around for a spot to work remotely.

Try a few of the options. You’ll quickly figure out which one works best for you.

Feel Better,
[Cubicle|Therapy]