Web Work 101: Where to Work?

Woman-typing-on-laptopAs web workers, we like to feel that we can sit down just about anywhere and be connected and productive. Armed with our laptops and Wi-Fi, or mobile broadband, that is usually the case.

But just because we can work anywhere, doesn’t mean that we should. Our work environment is a critical part of our work process and can have tremendous influence on our productivity.

So what are our options?

Home: It’s no surprise that many web workers set up their work spaces at home. With a spare room or out of the way corner, you can be up and running with minimal cost and effort.

However, many of the benefits of a work at home environment are also potential drawbacks. Being close to family is great but they can also be a distraction. And while I would love the zero mile commute, maintaining a work-life balance can be a real issue for some.

There can also be privacy concerns when your home address or phone number is also used as a business location. PO boxes or mail stops can assist with the physical mail, and many folks use their mobile as a business line. Using a virtual phone service like GrandCentral or PhoneFusion can help keep your home line clear, as well as presenting a more professional appearance.

Hot-Spots: If you have ever walked in to a Panera or Starbucks, or a local coffee shop or cafe that offers free Wi-Fi, you’ve seen the scores of folks set up with their laptops diligently tapping away.

Working in a public spot like this certainly offers its advantages. The availability of Wi-Fi makes access to work easy, and we all know that caffeine fuels the web worker. Also, there is a feeling of community that can develop and the presence of other folks around can ease the sense of isolation that can be an issue for solo workers.

While I think hot-spots can serve as great meeting places, it would be a challenge for me as a full time work location. Making and receiving calls can be difficult, and sometimes power availability can be a big issue.

Also, rules for purchasing requirements and time limits can vary widely by location, and the costs of a daily coffee / bagel can add up quickly.

If you do utilize the space and services of a local establishment, be sure to also support them with your purchases.

Traditional Office: Many web workers do work in traditional office environments or set up shop by renting local office space. I found a nice space in the downtown area of my village that is quite affordable and gives me a conveniently-located space to work and hold meetings.

I appreciate never having to worry about finding a comfortable chair or a power outlet. I like maintaining control of my own Internet connection, and I don’t know how I would function without my whiteboard. Having a distinct work space, located out of the home, also makes that end of day transition much easier.

There are additional costs like insurance that can come along with a rented space but it is a good option for those that want to have a distinct work environment or a physical presence in your community.

Coworking: We’ve written a lot about coworking here on WebWorkerDaily and it is an exciting trend for the solo web worker. A good coworking facility can offer a lot of the benefits of a coffee-shop or cafe, while also providing some traditional office luxuries like whiteboards or meeting rooms. It is an emerging trend, though, and finding a good space can be difficult, especially in smaller suburban or remote areas.

When you’ve decided where you’re going to work from, it’s important to remember that the title of “web worker” is given to those who use the web to work productively and efficiently, no matter where you set up.

Where do you work?

(photo via Matthew Bowden)

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