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Today we have a guest post from Liz Presson. Liz’s mission is to encourage those sentenced to life in a cubicle farm to think outside the traditional office. Through her version of “Yelp for co-working spaces”, WorkingRemote.ly, she’s spreading her belief that choice of environment means more productivity and happiness. Liz was a founding employee at 2 influential social media start-ups, and she’s worked with many other start-ups to watch including Skillshare, Family Records, Zaarly and The Daily Muse. When Liz isn’t engaging communities of innovators and leaders, you can find her enjoying life as a New Yorker.


Choosing new and spontaneous environments while workshifting is part of the fun. Whether near or far, together or alone, at the cafe or the hotel, millions of options exist – but that’s the reason you chose to workshift: you get to make that decision for yourself.However, there is one workshifting decision that’s crucial: choosing a spot that meets all of your needs. Working at a place that doesn’t fit? Talk about a stressful day at the “office.”

So, to help you find an environment that’s just your style, consider these 5 key points while scoping out your next work environment.

Library or office?

Having a peaceful and quiet setting can be crucial during crunch time but inconvenient at other times. When you visit a space, consider the aural environment. Can you make calls, hold Skype chats or host Google Hangouts? For the times you need to collaborate, finding a spot where you’ll avoid nasty looks from your hushed cohabitants is key.

On the other hand, if noise level will impact your focus, be sure to swing by your spot during your typical working hours to see if it’s sufficiently silent.

When you’re looking for your next workspace, be sure to consider the aural environment that’s best for you and the type of work you’ll be doing. There’s nothing worse than jumping on a Skype call and realizing that you’re interrupting others. So, consider this: do you need to be in a library-like environment where it’s inconsiderate to take calls, or can you survive in a more social setting?

Critical connectivity

Wi-Fi is something that you probably already consider a must for workshifting. But do you consider bandwidth? I can think of few tortures worse than finally setting up only to realize the Internet connection is reminiscent of a dial-up modem circa 1990.

While you can’t always control your connection, you can check out speeds before you go all in and commit to a workspace. If your work is dependent on lightning-fast downloads, check with the staff at the location to see if you can test the rate. Again, visit when you’re likely to be working – stopping by on a weekend may yield an impressive connection; however, when you show up on Tuesday at 11:00 AM, you just might find a room full of other “co-workers” eating up all that bandwidth.

Brain boost or brain drain?

There’s collaborative water-cooler talk and then there’s wasting time. Communities can be one of the best aspects of workshifting, as meeting new people can inspire amazing ideas.

However, if you have something extremely important that needs 100 percent of your focus, friendly faces and chitchat might not be ideal.

This one can go either way. Think about what you’re working on and decide: are you in the mood to feed off the energy of others, or will the free-flowing chatter be a distraction?

You want to plug that in where?

We’ve all been there – crawling under a table or desk in search of a nonexistent plug. Don’t be that person. Before you start working in public, remember that even your sweet new MacBook has to be charged eventually (cat videos suck up a lot of juice!). Also, if you’re considering going into the wild at a park, remember this: while public spaces may have free Wi-Fi and seem like totally chic places to work, there’s no place to plug in out in nature.

The 2-hour workday

You’ve committed to working somewhere for the day, but just when you have the laptop fired up, a latte in hand and a friendly face sitting to the side, you hear an announcement that the space will be closing early.

It’s imperative to check the hours of operation before falling head over heels in love with a space. It might not seem like a huge deal, but if you’re in the flow, the closing-early sign can really throw off your whole day.

Overall, the most important thing is to know yourself and your productivity and work habits. Test out different spaces on low-key days and find which environments work best for you. Eventually, you’ll be able to look up spots online and know immediately if it’s meant to be.

Good luck out there, workshifters.

Photo credit: James Cox

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  • http://twitter.com/gayle2nturner Gayle Turner

    I actually workshifted in a library once. I got a lot done, because it was quiet and no one was there to interrupt me, but I had to reschedule a meeting. Remote meetings can be tricky, as you need to be in a place where you can make noise, but also preserve confidentiality. If one of the private rooms at the library had been free, it would have been perfect.

    • http://twitter.com/HeyElleCP Elizabeth Presson

      Gayle, yes meetings are the hardest part! I find co-working spaces to be the best place for meetings. They can get loud, but that’s better than interrupting a silent room for a call or video chat. Thanks for your input!  

  • http://www.moneyspruce.com/ Jeffrey Trull

    I’ve bee an really interested in coworking, but the space in New Haven closes at 5. That doesn’t work for me as a moonlighter right now, unfortunately. You make some great points on bandwidth and being able to make calls. I can’t imagine anywhere working out for me without those things.

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