Free Places to Work From

With the growing rise in technology and advancement in cloud based apps, it has become a way of life in how we go about our day to day activities. There are some who benefit from working away from the office in order to get more work done, free from distractions and other elements. Without adding pressure on the purse strings, it is possible to work remotely and do so without the hefty charges that come with co-working spaces and other rental establishments.

The local library is a great place to work from. Not only will you find a peaceful and quiet environment, but you will find yourself surrounded with a range of comfortable desks, tables and chairs to suit your preferences. You might be lucky enough to find yourself a spot with a great view, overlooking the local park or beachfront. People are super respectful and will politely remind you if you don’t respect the “code of conduct”. This means no phone calls as this could cause a disturbance to others. This also means that video calls will need to be rescheduled for when you are in a more suitable environment. If you plan on using the library more frequently, you want to make sure you don’t stand on the toes of the regulars and this includes staff. Also, be mindful of others around you and use the bare minimum of space for yourself and your equipment. Nothing worse than having someone spread out and taking up valuable working space that someone else could occupy. Bringing your own refreshments is fine but I would suggest when you get hungry, you are better off eating your food outside. If for any reason, you need to use the bathroom or step away from your work area, make sure you pack up all your things and take these along with you. If you choose to leave your stuff there to avoid losing your spot, bear in mind that because this is a well-used, public facility, you might get a nasty surprise upon your return and find that your stuff has been taken. However, if you know someone who sat close to you, they could possibly watch over your things while you step away for a bit.

An added bonus for those that need do some further research, you can either browse the wide selection of books inside the library, or provided you have your trusty members card at the ready, you can opt to take a book out when it’s time to head home. The trend of getting a book out from the library has become a thing of the past, but not everything you research can be found in a google search. The staff are incredibly helpful and more than happy to assist you when you looking for something in particular. Because of the wide range of libraries across the country, anything that is not available can be transferred to the branch within a few days if you are happy to wait for its arrival.

Opening hours do vary from branch to branch, most of which are during office hours. If you are happy to make the trip into the city, because of its central location, closing time is at 8pm. There are generally certain restrictions on websites you can access during your time there, which includes social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram and any other sites with inappropriate material. These sites are automatically blocked and will be red-flagged when any attempt to access has been made. With that being said, any internet activity will be monitored for safety and security purposes. You need to take into account that the will be some changes after the fact.

Alternatively, there are WIFI-enabled locations scattered around the city centre and accessible from some of the most picturesque areas that would make the perfect backdrop to anyone’s work area. Whether you prefer the hustle and bustle of the city life or prefer the quieter area within the local park, there are many great spots to choose from. You will be able to find these by searching the internet for WIFI-enabled areas within the city or by looking out for the WIFI signs that are fixed onto lampposts or street signs. Some areas only offer 30 minutes of free WIFI and then you will need to pay for additional use. Being outdoors would be a great place to get some work done, especially on a nice summer’s day.

The good thing about free WIFI is that there are no time restrictions as to when you can start using it. Whether it is 5 in the morning or 11 at night, your daily allocation is within easy reach at the click of a button. This will prove to be incredibly helpful when you have run out of data and need to send an email in a hurry or if you need to arrange a video call with a colleague overseas.

Even if you don’t need WIFI, you could always seat yourself in a cosy spot with your device and work away to your hearts content. You could even go one step further and just have a notebook and pen with you to jot some ideas down. Giving yourself a break from looking at the screen is always a good idea. Make sure to keep an eye on the weather and avoid going at the first sign of rain clouds or windy weather.

Another trick is to situate yourself in an area within one of the city’s finest hotel lobbies. You can’t grumble at the speed of the WIFI connection and if you find a half decent spot, you could possibly go unnoticed for a number of hours. Not only are you surrounded by top of the line amenities but you are fortunate to be shoulder to shoulder with some of the elite members of society. Play your cards right and you could possibly be working next to a celebrity! I would be careful with this tactic and on some occasions, stopping by one of the restaurants or cafes and ordering a meal or a beverage will increase your staying power. Find inspiration for some productive work in your surroundings and feel free to take a break now and again to admire the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

During off peak hours, you could find a free seat at one of the many cafes across the city. Most cafes now offer a high speed WIFI connection to all patrons. I would suggest ordering a coffee or tea for the duration of your stay. I would set a time limit on the length of stay here, as you have to bear in mind that these types of places pick up a little bit over the lunch. If you are in a larger café and it starts to fill up, you could look around and see if there’s anyone you could possibly share your space with. You might be lucky enough to share a table with some others on the same boat as you and share ideas – cafes are a great way to meet new people and network.

Also, there are a few pubs and restaurants offering a free space for you to work in. You would need to order a drink or some food for the duration of your stay, but these types of places also offer free high speed WIFI connection. I am not suggesting indulging in some sneaky beverages while you work as this will obviously affect your productivity, but if used properly, can be a viable option to working away from home. Again, if you choose to go with this option, probably best to steer away from busy hours to avoid getting pushed out of your workspace.

Another good option would be to pop over to a friend’s place for a change of scenery. You could even offer some refreshments as a buffer and here you can be in a comfortable setting and not have to worry about losing your space if you have to step away from your work area for some fresh air. If you know someone who also works remotely, this would work well – you can share ideas or have your own separate areas of the house to work in at your own pace without any distractions. Make sure to take breaks with your friend throughout the day – you could even have a lunch break and pop into the local café for a bite to eat. Working remotely can often feel a bit lonely at times so to have a bit of conversation to break up the day a bit, helps to maintain a good level of sanity.

It is a true blessing to be able to work away from the office. Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and find yourself a spot that you are both comfortable working in and also ensure that you maintain a high level of productivity. You have the freedom to pick and choose where you would like to base yourself, and this may depend on location, travel requirements, weather and other factors. Don’t allow yourself to succumb to the loneliness of staying at home alone and step outside of your comfort zone, always making sure that whatever option you choose, it brings you an element of happiness. Breathe in that fresh air or find comfort in the humdrum sounds of everyday folk, the possibilities are endless.


Working from a Café

Working for a company that offers you flexibility in where you work is becoming a growing trend – technology advancements have now made it possible to complete all your allocated tasks from your very own computer, without having to step foot into an office. This saves a lot of time on the daily commute and gives you more time to focus and complete your work on your terms.

The most important thing is to ensure your work environment is free of distractions, but often you will find a change of scenery can help increase your productivity.

There are some who like the comforts of working from their own home. There are others who go to their local library. Then there are those who like the hustle and bustle of their local café. Filled with a collective of suits, coffee-fiends and foodies alike.

Whether it be for a video conference call or simply work as usual all you need is a strong WIFI connection to start you off and voila! These days most cafes offer a free connection when you grab a coffee, however these days you can even hotspot to your phone efficiently with the improvement of 4g, and 5g rolling out. With that you have your temporary office set up for the day! Not only do cafes offer comfortable seating for the duration of your stay, but there are also a wide range of refreshments available should you be in dire need a bit of a pick-me-up.

Word to the wise, if you plan on staying a few hours, you can get on the good side of café workers and order something a bit more substantial (more than one drink) while you are there. There are some cafes who can get a bit iffy about long-stayers, who don’t spend a great deal of money and are cheekily eating up the WIFI and taking up the valuable space for other well paying customers.

It is important to exercise a bit of care and consideration when choosing an area of the café to sit in. Try to stay away from overly populated areas such as, near the door or in the middle of the café. The most ideal place would be a position by the wall, perhaps in the corner, where you can have an element of privacy. Proximity to other tables may not affect you, but at peak times, especially lunch hour or happy hour, the noise may prove to be a bit overwhelming and affect the level of work you produce. If you can handle the noise, then that’s great, otherwise noise-cancelling headphones would be the next best thing.

To ensure you aren’t causing a disturbance to other café patrons, I would suggest against making any important phone calls or video calls. There is a time and place for this and these types of conversations are better done in a quieter and more private setting. The last thing you want to have is someone overhear your conversation with some details that may be classed as confidential to an individual.

One thing to note is that there are certain cafes that have a specific time restrictions regarding WIFI usage or how long one can stay, often depending on occupancy numbers. You may find that some cafes are only open during specific times and you may need to look elsewhere for somewhere to go when they close up for the day.

It’s also important to remember the safety and security of your work equipment when you need to use the bathroom facilities or grab some more refreshments.

Most places are pretty secure with a low-level risk of theft so you could leave everything as is and step away briefly. I personally wouldn’t do so, but there are others who feel completely comfortable doing this. I guess if you keep a watchful eye on your belongings, this might work.

Also, once you have become a regular and have become quite friendly with the staff and customers, leaving your things won’t be an issue and you can rest assured, will be under the watchful eye of those around you. If, however, you have something of value, it might pay to pack everything up and bring it with you. The risk to doing so, means you could possibly lose the table and find it is occupied with new people on your return.

On the other hand, you could always ask a neighbouring table to watch over your things while you are away. Most people are more than happy to watch over your things. Just be very mindful of the time you are away, you don’t want to be of an inconvenience to anyone.

Some of the well-known cafes that offer a good WIFI connection include: Gloria Jeans, Starbucks, Shaky Isles and Mojo. If you want to know of other locations, check out:

Cafes are also good places to hold informal meetings or have a catchup with colleagues. Remember to book in advance if you are in a bigger group and if so let the café know if there are any catering requirements just to give them a heads up. Try and schedule meetings like this when it’s quieter so as to avoid busy times and overloading the café workers.

With remote working on the rise, location is everything and if used properly, can prove to be a viable option allowing you a bit more freedom in your work lifestyle. Although at times you can feel lonely and a bit isolated from the team, clever applications such as Nowbridge, open up those doors and has been designed to keep you connected with your team.

Nowbridge from a receptionist’s perspective

As a receptionist you can often feel isolated from the rest of the office. Nowbridge keeps you connected with your work colleagues, whether they are in the office or working from the comforts of their own space. Provided you have an active camera at your computer, you can always check on the availability of your team.

When getting started you can select members of your team who you wish to see and add these individuals to your contact list. The application will deliver camera shots images at 3 second intervals from people you have chosen. Images are clear and all you need to do is just open up the app to check on their availability. If you would like an addition level of privacy there are a number of photo filters which you can overlay on your video feed – you can keep the original image filter, otherwise you can choose to have a blurred image or add a bit of creativity to your display picture with the cartoon or black and white effect.

If you need to leave a message with a colleague but you can see they are not available, you can type a short message for them in the app. This can be a lot better than sending a message via email which is often lost in their inbox, or leaving a phone message which often gets left unchecked. You can rest assured that the user will have an instant message notification and once they have returned to work, you can expect a quicker response than alternative methods of communication.

Part of the receptionist role is to answer all incoming calls to the office. With Nowbridge, it is now a lot easier to determine whether someone is available to take a call or not. This saves time in having to walk over to their desk to check, or transferring the call and having it bounce back to you. This is super helpful if you work in a larger office and staff are on different floors or located in a space quite far from you, or in some cases, their office is located in another city or overseas.

Nowbridge is also an effective tool to get queries answered sooner rather than later. Whether you are near or far, this type of service ensures everyone involved can have some level of input. It can also be a helpful form of communication to announce visitors to the building and notifying staff that their guests have arrived.

To get the full benefit of this software, you should ensure that all staff have Nowbridge running on their device.

Why working remotely makes sense

Remote workers are typically less stressed

When your employees feel that they can work in a way that suits them, they are less stressed because they feel more in control of their lives.

Remote workers are well connected

It’s so easy to stay connected with people nowadays; smartphones, social media, project management tools and productivity software all mean that you could be on the other side of the world to your colleagues and still be connected.

Remote workers save companies money

If you rent a smaller office, or no office at all, you’ll save heaps of money on rent, electricity, internet provision and more.

Remote workers have a better work-life balance

This goes without saying really. If you’re able to do a good days’ work without suffering a stressful commute or being constantly interrupted by colleagues, you’ll feel satisfied. Also, being able to finish work and already be at home is a bonus, you’ll have more time free to enjoy your evenings.

Remote workers are more engaged

When some or all of your colleagues work remotely, they are able to engage with their work and each other more efficiently because of the lack of distractions that always come with working in an office. Although yes, there are other distractions when you work remotely, if you’re sensible, you can manage these effectively.

Remote workers don’t need to commute

In an earlier post, we explained how working remotely, can help save the planet but even if you can’t work remotely in your role, by walking/cycling/taking the bus instead of driving to work, you can make a huge difference as reducing commuter traffic cuts air and water pollution and oil consumption. Working from your home or even from a local coffee shop is better for the environment than working in a huge office.

The formula for remote working

Successful remote teams all have three things in common: great communication, remote-specific management strategies in place and the right people for the job.

If one element slips, the whole remote working bubble could burst. Productivity could decrease, communication could break down and you’ll understandably question the feasibility of remote working and whether it’s the right fit for your business.

Think about it, you could have the best people for the job working for remote-specific managers but arguably the main thing that makes remote work possible, communication, goes wrong. Maybe your teleconferencing software is flaky, the WiFi connection is intermittent or your productivity software is suffering a glitch or being updated. Whatever it is, this means that you and your remote team can’t do your job properly. You might have great technology and communication, great management but the wrong people in your team. If just one of the parts of the formula is off-kilter, remote working becomes a struggle rather than a success.

All sorts of companies can gain a lot from encouraging remote working but if these processes aren’t developed or followed from the outset, the whole remote working culture can fall flat and rather than making your company more productive, it can have the opposite effect.

Great communication + remote-specific management + the right people = success

None of these things should be too difficult for any company to achieve but with a little forward-planning, you can ensure remote working success and hopefully benefit from the added productivity that comes from it.

Co-work vs remote work

Although there are definitely perks to working from home, there are also downsides including distractions and not having a professional location to meet clients.

Co-working continues to be on the rise, with more and more co-working spaces popping up all over the world. There are a range of different places at different prices with flexible plans. These spaces offer great benefits for both the remote worker and their company as in most working scenarios, it can increase productivity and also improve the quality of your work, not to mention you’ll probably be able to get a decent cup of coffee!

Think about it you’ll be in a more work-like environment, and co-working spaces allow for interactions with other people, something which remote workers can miss out on when they work from home. Those interactions could range from just having a conversation to full-on collaboration with other co-workers sharing the space. You don’t need to be in the same industry to be able to get ideas, network and be inspired in the company of other like-minded individuals. Different companies have different ways of working but lots of ideas are transferable between industries.

The community atmosphere in a co-working space can promote collaboration, networking but also friendships. Never underestimate the power of working in a positively-charged space with like-minded peers.

What do you think? Is the allure of a co-working space greater than working from home?


First steps to remote working

It can be daunting going “office-free”, but it can also be liberating. You take control of your work life and make it work for you.

  1. Working from home doesn’t necessarily mean working from home, if you feel that you would be more productive at your local library, in a co-working space, in the garden, sitting in your local coffee shop or wherever, you’re free to do that, providing that you are not beyond reach if your work involves regular contact with a manager or colleagues.
  2. Make sure that you’ve got everything you need to do your job – computer/laptop, WiFi, notepads, a headset with a decent microphone if you’ll be doing a lot of conference calls etc., any software or VPN access that you might need.
  3. Be ready for distractions – at least when you first start working from home it can be hard to focus on your work. Whether the distraction is your kids, pets, neighbours mowing the lawn or the availability of a television…try not to let these take over your working day and treat it as if it were a normal day in the office.
  4. Get dressed for work – embrace the opportunity to wear more comfortable/casual clothes but make an effort to actually get dressed and if you’re going to be taking part in conference video calls, make an effort to look presentable.
  5. Set your hours and stick to them – it can be easy to overwork when you don’t have to take your regular commute home at the end of the working day but it’s important to put these boundaries in place from the outset, you can always look at changing them later.
  6. Invest in a proper home-working area – if you don’t have a home office, consider buying a desk and setting it up to work from, we guarantee you’ll find it harder to concentrate in the long run if you work from your bed or kitchen table.
  7. Try different tools and software and see what works for you – there are countless apps and tools out there, we’ve written about some of our favourites here, but see what works for you (and your employer).
  8. Stay connected with your team – however you do it, via daily or weekly catch ups or software like Nowbridge, it can get lonely working from home without the ongoing buzz that happens in an office, so stay connected.


Nowbridge’s newest feature

As you know, we’re always working to improve our remote working software and our latest feature allows you even more control.

Nowbridge is a desktop application which sits unobtrusively in the background and helps you stay part of the team. If you need to check whether your colleague is at their desk, you just click on the icon and Nowbridge comes to the front of the screen. It’s really useful for remote workers because it allows you to see your colleagues throughout the working day, send them chat messages, files and initiate Skype conversations with them. If you’d like to read more about the Nowbridge features and why we created the software, we wrote a blog about it recently.

Another key feature for people who work remotely is the ability to turn it off or press pause throughout the day, which is a useful indicator to your colleagues that you have finished for the day or are on a break.

Anyway, our new feature allows you to keep the application on top of the other windows, you can set the transparency to whatever you prefer so it’s not distracting, but you can quickly see who is there and if they’re free without having to switch windows or pause what you’re doing.

It can be a real time-saver! Plus, you don’t have to activate the feature if you’d prefer to keep it in the background. Like most of the features on Nowbridge, this option can be controlled by pressing the settings button and ticking the box next to ‘Always on top’.

What do you think of our new feature?

Ways to avoid burnout when you work remotely

Although we still firmly believe that working remotely can be great for companies and employees alike, people can have a tendency to work more while doing so.

When your home is your office, it can be hard to separate your work and personal life. Here are some ways to help avoid burnout and keep living the dream…

Maintain a routine

Whatever your working hours, make sure that you keep to the routine as if you were working in an office. This will make it easier to distinguish between work and non-work time and help to prevent you from doing too many hours.

Treat your working day as you would if you didn’t work remotely

It can be easy to slip into bad habits when you work from home, the aforementioned routine will help with this but seemingly little things like getting dressed for work, making a pot of tea or coffee and not just opening your laptop in bed and starting work as soon as you wake up, will make a real difference. Bear in mind that there is no-one to tell you to stop working, you need to decide when to stop.

Create boundaries

Relish the freedom that remote working allows but be proactive about setting boundaries and sticking to your priorities. Find the hours that work for you and make sure that your colleagues are aware of what they are. Working remotely doesn’t mean that you need to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it offers flexibility which you can enjoy if you have a few things in place.

Take breaks

We don’t just mean a lunch break, though that is important too. Throughout the working day in an office, think about how many times you get up from your desk to get a drink or visit a colleague, have a meeting etc. The good thing about working remotely or being at home is that you have the opportunity to make so much more of these breaks. Take a walk, do a spot of yoga, get ahead of the laundry, basically do whatever works for you.

Schedule some human interaction

As much as rowdy colleagues can be off-putting, it is nice to have some human interaction in your day. Whether it’s for a spot of gossip in the tea room or to discuss weekend plans, these small interactions do provide moral boosts throughout the day. This is one of the main contributors to burnout and can be easily avoided with a bit of social interaction. Nowbridge can help with this, you can see who is there and if they’re free, send chat messages and more.

One of the main ways to avoid burnout is to be aware of it. Practice self-care and make sure that you’re able to enjoy the perks of working remotely. Having a healthy work-life balance doesn’t purely come from working remotely, it comes from being in control of your working life and making sure that it works for you.


A look at remote working in New Zealand

We’ve spoken a lot about how and why we created Nowbridge but something you might not be aware of is that we’re a Kiwi company. We do quite a few posts about remote working, so we thought we’d have a look closer to home and see what we find.

According to a recent article, despite being internationally well known for their commitment to having a good work-life balance, 75% of New Zealand CFOs expect stress levels to rise significantly over the next few years, citing business expectations, increased workloads and underdeveloped IT infrastructure as reasons for this.

To try and alleviate workplace stress, some of the measures that an incredible 93% of Kiwi CFOs are taking are:

  • Redesigning/refreshing the office space
  • Encouraging staff to give regular feedback
  • Offering flexible working hours or remote working
  • Wellness schemes

A study by Massey University and AUT of 1700 staff across 50 Australian and New Zealand organisations found that 89% of staff worked remotely for at least some of the working week and more than half worked from home at least one day per week.

So it seems that a lot of New Zealand companies are following, or at least intending to embrace the remote working trend. However, an article in the NZ Herald from last year explains that there is no governmental body responsible for promoting this area of the digital economy and that subsequently, many organisations do not have formal policy for remote working, despite being aware of the potential benefits it could bring to the company and the staff.

Hopefully this will change over the coming months as technology continues to change the business world. We’ll be ready when it does!

Have you tried Nowbridge yet?