Friday Donut tip: finding alternative places to work

By: John McGarvey

Date: 13 July 2012

Working in a cafe{{}}

Do you get to work somewhere like this? (Image: plindberg on Flickr.)

Looking back, some recent IT Donut blog posts sound a little doom laden. We've had mobile phone meltdown, password breaches and even questions about whether you can trust your own employees. It's not that we're paranoid (honest). We just like to think about how to cope in the worst case scenario.

Continuing in the same vein (sorry about that), if there's a serious problem with your business IT - or a disaster that affects your entire premises, like a fire or a flood - then your business continuity plan might encourage you to go and work from somewhere else.

Working from home can be a good option, but these days there are other possibilities too. Free Wi-Fi must surely be available in every town in the UK by now, so here are three ways to find a public place - like a cafe or bar - to work from:

  • Check the listings on WorkSnug. WorkSnug is an online tool to help mobile workers find places to work from. Its claim that work is 'not a place we go, it’s a thing we do' might be a little ahead of its time, but it has a tip-top list of places with fast, free Wi-Fi where patrons won't start tutting if you open your laptop. Just tap your postcode into the search and see what comes up.
  • Look for a chain. All the best mobile worker friendly cafes and bars I know are independents. I don't why that is - they just are. But if you need free Wi-Fi and you need it fast, head for a chain on the local High Street. Pret a Manger, Cafe Nero, Starbucks and even McDonald's all offer free wireless internet. Busy branches might not be the best places to focus on work, but they're great for catching up on email.
  • Use a dongle. You want real freedom to work anywhere? You'll need a mobile broadband dongle. These look just like memory sticks, but contain a mobile phone SIM card. When you plug one into your laptop, they get you online via a 3G mobile phone network. As long as there's mobile coverage, you can get on the internet. Just watch the costs - you usually pay for the amount of data you download.

Do you work from public spaces? How do you find your favourite spots?

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