5 productive home office alternatives for freelancers

You've just finished your morning routine, and now it's time to start your workday. As a freelancer, your options of where you can get work done are numerous, but where will you be more productive? Outside of the typical home office and coworking space, here is a list of my favorite places to get work done.

1) City Parks

  • Vitamin D boost - According to Scientific American currently 75% of all teens and adults in the United States have a vitamin D deficiency. The culprit? An increased amount of time spent indoors, away from the Vitamin D giving rays of the sun.

  • Increased critical thinking - There have been countless studies performed showing that time spent in nature can increase critical thinking skills, as well as offer up more creativity. It makes sense since we are biologically designed to be out in nature and not hunched over laptops indoors.

  • Increased health - One of the benefits of working in the park is that it is easy to incorporate a brisk walk into your breaks or even a nice bike ride allowing you to enjoy the nature around you. Personally, I always seem to close the activity rings on my smartwatch when I work from a city park.

Pro Tip: To bring some of these extra benefits to your home office, set up shop in a room with a lot of natural light. Also, consider bringing in some plants to brighten up your space and receive some of the benefits of being out in nature.

2) University Libraries

Every university library is different, and while most libraries allow outside visitors, it is always a good idea to check the library website for their particular policies before heading out. Some of the benefits of rubbing elbows with college students at the university library are.

  • Being in an environment of focused individuals.

  • Access to great resources such as a variety of reference material and trade publications (depending on library policy).

  • Access to pleasant outside working areas, which would gain you all the benefits of working at a city park.

Pro Tip: For those universities that don't allow wifi access to visitors, I'm looking at you, Berkeley. Do what I do and bring work that requires an internet/distraction-free environment, for instance, a blog post on the best places to work away from your home/office!

3. Independent Coffee Shops

Not only are indie coffee shops a great place to work, but they are also a perfect place to rendezvous for some after work fun. Most feature a variety of activities such as open mic nights, group jogs, and trivia nights. When you're not busy with all the extracurriculars, some of the benefits of working at the local coffee shop include;

  • Limitless source of caffeine

  • Experience the buzz of having people around you (some much needed human interaction)

  • Background noise to keep you productive (they even have apps that play cafe noise because people find it helps boost output and focus!)

Pro Tip: Check out Yelp and explore the best independent local coffee shops in your area. You will get to know your city better at the same time and find some damn good coffee.

4) Hourly Spaces

Renting office and or meeting spaces by the hour might seem like a waste of money when a co-working space obviously offers a much better deal. But these hourly office spaces are useful for those not wanting to rent co-working space regularly.

Use this hourly office/meeting space for focused work sessions. Like crucial product brainstorming, a client meeting, or possibly as an end of the week productivity treat. You'd be surprised how something as simple as a change of scenery can affect the quality of ones thinking.

  • Liquidspace offers the biggest selection of hourly workspaces around the world.

  • Breather, a small startup, offers some great high end working spaces if you live in San Francisco, New York, or Boston.

  • Recharge doesn't sell workspaces but instead, allows users to book hotel rooms for an hour. Since most hotels have well-equipped workstations, regardless this might be a cool way to transition to/from our next suggestion.

5. Hotel Lobbies

High-speed Wi-Fi, comfy chairs, no crowds. It's a bit of a mystery why these locations are not more popular. Most freelancers can blend right in with the business traveler crowd if you leave the startup hoodie at home. More and more hotels are encouraging patrons to come and work in their lobbies to give them a bit of a buzz of activity.

  • All the benefits of working at a coffee shop but with much more expensive furniture, more space, and fewer crowds.

Pro Tip: Bring a nice pair of noise-canceling headphones with you, in case things get a bit loud. Some of my favorites are the Bose QC 35s or for a more flashy pair of cans the Parrot Zik 3s work just as well.

Hold your horses...

Before you take off, let's make sure you have the proper gear ready to go.

  • Laptop/tablet with enough juice. Leave the charger at home, as this builds a sense of urgency in your work and pushes you to get more done in a smaller amount of time.

  • Wifi Hotspot Dongle. Although your smartphone is capable of creating a hotspot on its own. For the most distraction-free Pomodoro sessions, your smartphone should be turned off or at the very minimum in airplane mode.

  • Noise Cancelling Headphones. While working remotely is great, one of the drawbacks is that it can get a bit noisy at times. A great pair of noise-canceling headphones pumping some ambient music/white noise will come in real handy.

Now it's time to grab your gear, pick a place, and go be your most productive self. Maybe in between Pomodoro sessions you can share this article with two other freelancers that could use a few hours outside of the home office.

Written in 10 Pomodoro sessions from Berkeley, California