Where do you work?

As you join the world of remote and flex work, you may find yourself cycling through the usual locations...and suffering through their disadvantages. I experienced this firsthand shortly after starting my own business.

For example, working from home is great for some, but I found it difficult to create separation between work and personal life (leading me to unwittingly work more hours than I desired). I did the coffee shop thing for a while, but I couldn't help but feel cramped after time.

One of the best things I did to increase the quality of my work (and keep my own sanity) was to establish a routine--and find a workplace option that gave me the advantages I was seeking.

If you're searching for workplace alternatives, consider the following three options:

1. Ikea

Call me crazy, but I loved Ikea.

I find the company's marketing and design work inspiring (gotta love the Swedes), and the restaurant is large enough that it's easy to get up and walk around, while still keeping an eye on your things. For much of the first year running my business, Ikea served as my "home office away from home."

Of course, the electrical outlets at my Ikea were few and far between, which proved to be problematic. It can also get pretty noisy, which means no conferences at mealtimes.

Pros: Lots of space, comfortable seating, inexpensive food and coffee, free and unlimited Wi-Fi

Cons: Few (and inconveniently located) electrical outlets, noisy at mealtimes

2. Empty Restaurants

Spacious is a startup co-founded by Preston Pesek and Chris Smothers. Their idea is simple: Many restaurants sit empty and unused throughout the day. Why not turn that large, untapped area into co-working spaces?

Since the eateries provide the real estate, Spacious offers memberships at a fraction of the cost of other co-working offices. Restaurant owners benefit because they get revenues from what were previously dead hours. (Read more here about how Spacious works.)

You don't have to build a company to take advantage of this great idea. You could simply gather some of your freelancer friends together, and make a local restaurateur an offer. In showing him or her the benefits, you may even be able to negotiate extras--like including snacks, coffee and other beverages within a set price.

Pros: Mutually beneficial relationship, less expensive than other co-working alternatives, extra perks could be negotiated

Cons: Initial investment of time to pool with other freelancers, need to convince restaurant owner

3. Close friend or family member's room

If you can't convince a restaurant owner to give you some space, maybe you'll do better with a friend or family member.

My father-in-law has a home office, but he typically works outside the house. He had enough room for an extra desk, and offered to let me use the space. Now, his home office by evening and weekend serves as my office by weekday. Although he refuses to take rent, I find other (creative) ways to contribute...and there's always someone to feed the fish when he's away.

Why not create a similar, mutually beneficial arrangement with a trusted friend or family member? In doing so, you can help offset their monthly costs or provide them with an essential service--while gaining the space you desperately need.

Pros: Great savings, mutually beneficial arrangement

Cons: Requires good communication to prevent straining the relationship

Put It into Practice

Ready for something different? Get out of the coffee shop, and give one of these alternatives a try.

It may take a while to find the perfect solution, but it can make all the difference in remaining creative, productive, and inspired--and doing the best work of your life.

Published on: Aug 9, 2016