When you work for yourself or work from home, there’s something ~romantic~ about remote working. Getting out there where the people are, finding the perfect spot to set up your laptop and preparing for an uber-productive few hours that aren’t confined to your office or spare room with such distractions as anything and everything else in your home.
But like anything else, remote working isn’t perfect. Sadly, there’s no such thing as the perfect cafe that’s totally Instagrammable to take a quick grid pic or share a Story post, that also has ideal sound levels and food and drinks that don’t cost the Earth.
So let’s get into it – the pros and cons of remote working.
PRO: Remote working can spark creativity
If you work from home full-time like I do, getting out and working somewhere different can actually be super helpful to reignite that creative spark. Much like working in an office for “the man”, the same environment day in, day out can stifle your creativity.
For me, it’s to do with having new things to look at around you which can re-open the creativity box nestled in my brain. Whether it’s cafe artwork, the people around me or the weather outside, the new surroundings are just what I need when I have particularly creative endeavours on my to-do list.
CON: Other people exist
Ok, maybe that heading is a bit harsh. Not everyone is trash, but some people are. You could set up remote working the dreamiest of locations, where the aircon is at the perfect level, the tea is the best you’ve ever drunk and the staff are friendly and accommodating. But then that guy comes in. You know the one. He’s wearing a grey tailored suit and he’s ready to ruin your day.
He sits at his table and brings out his Microsoft Surface. You scoff from behind your Macbook – Microsoft’s operating system is 100% scoffable and you know it. You have the right to scoff too, because you know he’s about to take out his phone and have a 30-minute conversation with someone many decibels louder than is necessary. Yup, right on cue after waving over the waitress for a flat white he begins talking loudly about synergy and connectivity. Ooh, he sounds so important! What an impressive man!
In go your earphones, The Greatest Showman soundtrack full blast. Ahhh, that’s better. Just try not to start singing, eh? Or maybe you should, so the rest of the cafe have something else to listen to other than important business man’s drivel.
PRO: Someone else is making the food/drink
There’s something luxurious about having your beverages made and brought to you. Maybe that sounds a bit boujee (because it probably is), but traipsing up and down the stairs every hour or so to boil the kettle gets a bit old, doesn’t it?
Not to mention that remote working in a cafe is the perfect excuse to have a working brunch. People who work in London do it, so why can’t you? Well, I’m assuming they do it as I’ve never worked in London, but it’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
I totally basic bitch my working brunch by getting smashed avocado and poached eggs on toast. Mmm. Treat yoself the next time you do some remote working – you won’t regret it.
CON: Power outlets can be sparse
I always fully charge my laptop before I go out for a dose of remote working. You never know what the power outlet situation will be, and your usual spot at your favourite location where there’s a power outlet just the right distance from the table could be taken.
What’s even worse is when there’s a place that ticks every box – but they don’t even have any power outlets. Madness in this day and age, if you ask me. From time to time, I will take that risk and work somewhere without an outlet, in the hope that the combination of Photoshop, Word and a remote server app aren’t going to drain the battery too quickly.
PRO: Overheard conversations
When all-important grey suit business prick isn’t around, it’s totally fun to eavesdrop when you’re remote working. Sometimes you can hear some real gold. Real gold usually involves something hilariously funny out of context, and you have to resist from laughing out of fear of judgement.
After all, you are sat on your own in a cafe in the middle of the afternoon – laughing loudly at seemingly nothing might push you into “that crazy lady” territory.
CON: Needing a wee
Several cups of tea down, it hits you. You ~really~ gotta pee.
You have your laptop, notebook, pen and phone all out on the table and as much as you’d love to trust humanity, you don’t fancy leaving out your most expensive, prized possessions for someone to pinch. So you pack everything up. You head to the toilet. You come back, and your table has been taken. Damn it.
I have actually once entrusted my belongings to a complete stranger – but only because she trusted me first and I didn’t steal any of her shit. So, after doing my good Samaritan task of keeping an eye on her handbag while she popped to the loo, she returned the favour. Humanity isn’t always trash, y’know?
PRO: The “buzz”
It’s true what they say about the coffee shop buzz. It really can make you more productive when remote working. I know apps and hour-long Youtube videos exist to replicate the sounds, but for me, the real deal is all that will do.
From the crunch of the coffee beans grinding to the soothing sound of sensible-level chatter, the coffee shop buzz happening around you makes you feel less isolated. Although you aren’t necessarily interacting with anyone, that feeling of being around people beats sitting in my office alone any day.
Well, except when I need head down concentration on making sense of my accounts, that is.
CON: “Searching for connections…”
When you try out a new place for remote working, the first problem to solve is making sure you can connect to the wifi and that the wifi isn’t utter shite (if it even exists at all).
By the time you’ve been able to solve this conundrum, you’ve already had to order. So, even if you’re presented with the infuriating “Searching for connections…” message as you try desperately to get connected to your emails and notifications, you’re there for the long run.
I had this happen to me recently, in a place I’d already used the wifi before. There was obviously something wrong with their router, but I’d already ordered the aforementioned basic bitch brunch and a tea, so I just had to make do with 3G tethering and crying when my phone bill arrived.