8 Surprising Places To Get Work Done

Think outside the crowded coffee shop with these ideas for taking work outside of the office.

8 Surprising Places To Get Work Done
[Image: Flickr user David Sifry]

Remote work is increasingly common.


A February survey from the Flex+Strategy Group/Work+Life Fit, Inc. found that 31 percent of adults who are employed full time do most of their work away from their employer’s location.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re working at home, though, or even at Starbucks or a co-working space. If you’re location independent, here are some other places that, in a pinch, might work to get things done.

1. An airport.

Frequent fliers obviously use the lounges to take calls before boarding. But interestingly, some airports are presenting themselves as public places with more people watching options than a coffee shop–even for people who don’t plan to go anywhere. Heathrow Airport has hosted writers-in-residence drawing inspiration from the bustle. Just make sure that parking fees don’t eat up everything you earn while working there.

2. A hotel lobby.

When I really need to crank something out, I hole myself up in a hotel room for a few days. But if you just need an hour or two, a hotel lobby will suffice. Like airports, hotel lobbies are public spaces with enough foot traffic to inspire interesting thoughts. If you’re not a guest, and don’t seem to be meeting a guest, you shouldn’t linger forever. But if there’s a bar and you order a drink or two, you can probably hang out for a while.

3. A bar.

Speaking of drinks, a coffee establishment isn’t the only place where people can linger. A loud bar at happy hour won’t work for pulling out your laptop (beyond the fact that everyone will make fun of you). But many bars open by mid-afternoon, and aren’t busy until 4. You can sip a beer or soda and work in a relaxed fashion until the drink specials start.


4. A casual restaurant during off-peak hours.

A 24-hour diner opens up all sorts of possibilities, including a clean, well-lighted space for extreme night owls or early birds. Wherever you are, be sure to order enough that you don’t wear out your welcome, and if the restaurant fills up, it’s time to find somewhere else.

5. The library.

There may not be food. And you can’t take a phone call without incurring other patrons’ wrath. But the librarians won’t kick you out until closing either, and you don’t need to spend money to earn your keep. Most towns have them and many have evening or weekend hours. Plus, if you need a break, you can peruse all the magazines, newspapers, or novels you want!

6. Your gym lobby.

People are coming and going, just like in an airport, and it’s not uncommon for people to hang out as they’re waiting for friends to finish up classes. Some gyms even put tables and chairs there, in which case, feel free to avail yourselves of them.

7. Your house of worship.

This only works if you regularly show your face there for services, but the space might be open and fairly empty during the week. As one reader told me, “I find my church parish hall is nice and quiet,” and she works there when she’s got time between appointments. It goes without saying that trying to work there during choir practice will be counter-productive, but during the day “it is oh, so, peaceful.”

8. Your (parked) car.

If the weather’s not extreme, a car opens up all sorts of intriguing options: the back corner of a store’s parking lot, by the field for your kid’s sports practice, overlooking a scenic vista at a pull-off on a mountainous road. As long as there’s reception, you can take a call with no one glaring, and even take a nap in the backseat if you need a break.


Where do you find to work when you aren’t at home of the office?

About the author

Laura Vanderkam is the author of several time management and productivity books, including I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time (Portfolio, June 9, 2015), What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (Portfolio, 2013), and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think (Portfolio, 2010). She blogs at