Going Freelance: Where Do You Work?


If you’re thinking about going freelance, you may be wondering where you can work from? After all, while working from home can seem appealing at first, it might get boring over time or it might be that you can’t get the kind of distraction-free environment you need to get work done at home.

So, with that in mind, we’ve come up with a list of places you can work from as a freelancer: co-working, cafes, libraries, bookstores, pubs, bars, hotels, a friend’s place, universities, outside, a rented desk and even the supermarket.

Now, let’s take a look at the etiquette of working from each of these:

Co-Working Spaces

 

The digital nomad favorite. We’re not convinced at all by the value of co-working. We find it expensive and the “social benefits” are dramatically overstated.

However, when we do like to use co-working is when there are facilities that we need that we don’t want to buy and carry around with us. Scanners, printers, etc. are good examples of this.

They can also come in handy if they have meeting facilities or isolated sound rooms where you can make a ton of calls without driving anyone crazy or record some audio for your latest podcast or video.

Don’t forget that most co-working spaces will offer a free introductory day if you Google for them before you go. That is quite often enough for us to get all we need out of a co-working “experience” in any given place.

Coffee Shops

 

The coffee shop is our top choice of work location when we don’t want to work from home. Most places around the world now offer decent Wi-Fi with your coffee and the environment tends to more relaxed and less annoying than a co-working space.

We do advise you to skip the busiest times of day (lunch, dinner, breakfast) and to keep buying drinks or food if you intend to set up shop all day in a café. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when you’re told to go away and stop coming back.

Please, whatever you do – don’t be the idiot who comes into a quiet café to scream into Skype for an hour. It will, eventually, get you a free punch in the head and the person who hits you will get a round of applause. Have some consideration for those around you.

Libraries

 

Libraries are an under-rated resource. They kind of fell of people’s radar as the digital age started to push out reading as a majority pastime but they’re awesome for working in. This is true, even when you don’t speak the local language and can’t read the books.

They almost all have space to work in. They offer Wi-Fi. Many now have coffee shops and drinks facilities. Also, if you’re in an English speaking country – you also have a reference library at your fingertips. Nice.

Bookstores

 

We love bookstores of any description and it’s fair to say that many modern bookstores offer comfy seats, Wi-Fi and space to sip coffee and work. In fact, last time I stayed in Penang, Malaysia on my own – I worked out of the Borders bookstore in the mall there.

Please make sure to be reasonable when you use a bookstore to work from. Buy a coffee at a minimum and ideally, buy the occasional book too.

Pubs/Bars

 

There are plenty of pubs and bars that working out of would be a bad idea. Spit and sawdust places with jukeboxes and regular fights are out. But there are plenty of quiet places, particularly during the day where they won’t mind you rocking up with a laptop and doing your work.

I regularly used to work in a friend’s bar (I’d name the place, but it’s now been sold off and is being redeveloped) in Cambodia because it had a great view of the river and was empty early in the day. I also ate breakfast while I worked.

Now, it’s important to remember that if you’re not buying food or drinks, they’re quickly going to decide they don’t need your “business”. So, make sure to buy stuff if you work in a pub or a bar.

Hotels

 

This ought not to come as a huge surprise to digital nomads but there are often business centers in decent hotels that you can work from or areas of the lobby that are ideal for setting up your laptop and typing away for a few hours.

You ought to be staying in a hotel to use their facilities, but we’ve found that having a friend stay there may be enough to swing access for you.

Also, a hotel business center is often happy to print and scan things for you at a price, of course. I regularly seem to find myself in hotels in a panic trying to print flight and insurance details before heading to the airport.

A Friend’s House

 

Sometimes, a change is as good as a rest and if you’ve got a friend nearby who is happy to see you while you work – then you might want to head over and use their space for a bit. It can be nice to have some company around while you work.

Also, if you get stuck, you can talk things through with each other and brainstorm ideas. It’s not an ideal “everyday” thing to do but for a day every now and again, working at a friend’s home can be absolutely awesome.

University/College Campuses

 

Now, this one depends on where you are. If you’re near the place you went to school, they may be happy to let you back in as an alumnus to use the library, computer lab, etc. This has the advantage of being around a lot of people that are working hard already which can motivate you to work harder.

If, on the other hand, you’re somewhere new – you might consider taking a single class at the university in order to gain access to the facilities. You could even learn something that helps with your career in the longer-term.

Work Outside

 

We only recommend working outside when the weather is good, and you’ve packed something waterproof to put your gear in should things take a turn for the worse. However, if you’ve got that then heading down to a local park (where they tend to have tables, benches, etc.) and working in the outdoors can be awesome.

Being surrounded by green nature has been scientifically demonstrated to make us feel happier and healthier. So, why not take advantage of that effect as you work?

Rent A Desk

 

This sounds like co-working but it’s not, quite. There are now more and more companies (and for that matter, public organizations) trying to get the most bang for buck out of their office space and they’re happy to rent you a desk that someone else is not using.

There are places online like ShareDesk and Desk Camping that can help you find what you need.

Restaurants

 

It’s a bit of an extension of pubs and bars, really but we’ve found that as long as you’re ordering food and eating more and more restaurants are fine for you to set up your laptop and work for an hour or two. They won’t, of course, be fine if you’re doing this in the busiest hours of the day but turn up at 2 p.m. and work until 4 p.m. and you should be fine.

Just be considerate and take your hint for when it’s time to leave.

Supermarkets, Grocery Stores And Shopping Malls

Many of these places, around the world, have small sections where you can sit, grab a coffee and use the free Internet. In fact, many of them also have neatly available plug sockets too. This can be a very cheap alternative to using a café, pub, bar or restaurant too.

Conclusion

 

There are plenty of places to work when you’re a freelancer or even when you’re a remote worker. If you’re feeling a little trapped in the four walls of your home – you can get out and about and enjoy that freedom that comes with freelancing.

Nicholas Barang

Nicholas Barang is a veteran digital nomad. In fact, he was probably "digital nomading" before it was called that. He believes that anyone can make a free and independent life if they want to. He wants to help those who commit to finding their own path. And to cut through the nonsense told about this "lifestyle" by those in search of a quick buck. If you want to reach him you can send him an e-mail at nicholasbarang@gmail.com or to nick at nomadtalk.net.

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