Looking for more inspiration from your remote work routine? Here are 12 alternative places to sit and work.
Coworking spaces are the obvious choice, but for those who want a less conventional experience, why not try your local museum or library?
From parks to botanical gardens, digital nomad Andy Stofferis offers advice on how to gain flexible access to inspirational workplaces in your local area.
If you work from home, are a freelancer, a digital nomad, remote worker, or you are keen to work from somewhere unconventional, then read our list of top places to plug in your laptop.
While working from home definitely has many perks, it can easily become monotonous and lonely. Sometimes you may feel like you need a more social workplace or simply a change of scenery. There are a host of places that you can work from – the more obvious ones are coworking spaces or coliving hubs.
But there are a range of other options too. For example, in good weather you could work from a nearby park, or you may like the buzzing atmosphere of a nearby university campus library. Or why not work from a museum?
Many freelancers enjoy mixing it up and working from a range of different locations, so it’s worth exploring your local area to see which coffee shops, botanic gardens, libraries, museums, coffee shops and restaurants offer great food, good rates and reliable internet.
12 places to work away from home
If you’re travelling then it can be a good option to work in a hotel lobby, where there’s usually always free internet for guests, to get out of your hotel room. But even if you’re a resident in a city, you might like to work at a nearby hotel during the week as they are usually quieter on weekdays. Plus, hotels often have business facilities like a printer, fax machine or postal services.
And while you’re there, you can order a coffee or breakfast – and it might be a nice change of scenery from your local coffee shop.
Most towns and cities have libraries, which typically have free internet or at least computers to work from if you don’t have a laptop. Libraries are also quiet places to work from, and during the week they are typically quite empty until schools are out.
Plus, you’ll be surrounded by lots of books, which is a great place especially if you’re a writer or illustrator.
While most people opt for free state libraries, there are also some private membership libraries that you can join for an annual subscription fee. Membership includes perks like having access to online resources, events, free Wi-Fi, and sometimes even free coffee. This can be a good alternative to a coworking space (and usually comes at a fraction of the cost).
There are some impressive and inspiring museums around the world where you can work from. Not only are they rooted in history and surrounded by fascinating artefacts, but many are aesthetically beautiful and even free to visit.
Working from museums that provide free internet can be a great way to break free of the mundane routine of working from home, and gets you into a cosmopolitan and inspiring environment.
Some museums do charge a fee for entry, but there are many that offer annual membership at reduced rates that can make it worthwhile working from there – and even quite cost-effective compared with renting office space. Included in your membership is often a discount on food and parking.
And if you have a work partner, you might be able to take them into the museum for free as a guest, so you can split the cost of the membership fee.
And while you’re there, you can take breaks from work and explore the many exhibits and collections of the museum.
A drawback is that the food at museums can often be overpriced, so unless you’re just having one meal there a day, it can get quite expensive as you can’t take along a packed lunch.
4. Gyms and Sports Clubs
If you already have a gym or sports club membership, many of them have cafes and smoothie bars with places to sit and work and free internet for members.
You can start off with a workout and then have a healthy breakfast and get some work done all in the same place. It’s also a good way to meet fellow members who share a common interest in health and fitness.
5. Bars, pubs and restaurants
If you’re looking for a quiet and non-conventional place to work during the day, then you might like to consider bars, pubs and restaurants. These places are often most lively at night, which means that during the morning they can be very quiet and therefore the perfect place to work uninterrupted.
However, you will probably have to order a drink or some food, which means that they’re not altogether free. And a drawback is that you won’t feel comfortable working all day at a table there without continuing to order meals.
6. Coffee Shops
Coffee shops are a popular meeting place and casual working place for many freelancers around the world. They can be a great place to meet fellow travellers and freelancers, and some offer amazing food and drinks at quite reasonable prices. Plus, most coffee shops offer free internet (although sometimes with an inconvenient data cap).
It’s best to do some research into which coffee shops have reliable, fast and free internet and opt for those ones first.
A drawback to working from a busy coffee shop, especially if you’re sensitive to noise, is the constant buzz of chatter from other patrons. So if you like to work in peace and quiet, this might not be the best option for you.
7. University Campuses
If you’re a student, then there are a host of places to work from at your university campus. While most facilities are geared towards students, there is a way to gain access without having to enrol in a degree. For example, you could opt to enrol in a short course or summer school programme to gain access to a student ID that gets you access to libraries and other facilities.
If, however, you’re not a student – there may still be some awesome spots on campus to sit and work. These include student cafes and perhaps a library or computer lab if they allow daily visitors.
Universities are known for being vibrant hubs of thought and innovation, so it might be a stimulating environment in which to work and network.
8. Coworking Spaces
Over the last decade and more, thousands of coworking spaces have sprung up around the world to cater for increasing demand for flexible work spaces for remote workers, freelancers and digital nomads.
Coworking spaces typically charge a monthly membership fee, which includes many benefits in addition to a work desk. This can include access to membership networking events which can be a good way to meet locals and other entrepreneurs, access to a pool and bar, or even access to exclusive events and workshops.
Coworking spaces are great if you want full business services, a quiet place to work, access to a large network of like-minded people, and the option of using facilities like a business lounge or meeting room.
However, they can be quite expensive, especially if you’re just starting out as a freelancer. If you just want an occasional exit from working from home, look out for coworking spaces that offer day passes or credits for flexible hourly access.
9. Other People’s Homes
One of the biggest complaints among people working remotely is the sense of loneliness and boredom they get from working alone. That’s why people often look for places to work that are more sociable and offer a chance for networking and human interaction.
If you already work from home regularly, you could invite others to join you at your home to work. It could be a great way to brainstorm ideas and collaborate, as well as spark new business ventures. You could start by inviting a couple of friends over and even rotate houses each week to keep it interesting.
Depending on the weather, you could also try working from your local park, or one of the beautiful parks in your city. There are many that now offer free internet, otherwise you will need to have your own mobile hotspot.
Make sure that it’s safe to work on a laptop in the park you plan to go to – depending on the location it might not be a good idea to flaunt an expensive laptop in public.
Many parks also have cafes and communal facilities that make it convenient to sit and work in beautiful surroundings.
11. Botanical Gardens and National Conservation Areas
There are many botanical gardens and special conservation areas in cities that offer good facilities like parks in terms of cafes and internet, which are conducive to working.
Some botanical gardens charge an entry fee, but you may be able to get a reasonable monthly or annual membership. These types of places often have a host of other facilities like curio shops, bathrooms, and even exhibits and museums.
If you love nature, and enjoy being surrounded by it, this could be the perfect option for you. However, during peak times like holidays or when there’s a special exhibition happening, these places can get crowded.
There are many book shops that have places for people to sit and read or work, and that also have small cafes serving coffee and snacks. This can offer a nice quiet place to get some work done, while being surrounded by lots of interesting books.
Final thoughts on getting out of your house and working somewhere new and exciting
If you’re tired of the monotony of working from home, feel that you need some social interaction, or you are keen to network and meet other entrepreneurs, then there are a range of places you can work from in your town or city.
Not all of them are conventional desk rentals or coworking spaces. You can opt for a place that suits your needs – whether it’s somewhere quiet like a library, somewhere cultural like a museum, or somewhere vibrant like a university.
Do you have any favourite unconventional places to sit and work? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.
I run a blog about digital nomadism and remote work. I believe digital nomads are the future of remote work. I've been travelling over different parts of the world over the past 6 years while running a full remote digital marketing agency - Sendabee. I'm interested in cultural differences and in the local mentality of each destination I live in. I enjoy hiking in nature and discovering hidden gems all over the world.