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: https://workfrom.co/

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.

Nowbridge: A useful tool for bringing teams together

Disconnected. That’s how we reckon many Wellingtonians must feel while their office buildings get assessed for earthquake damage. Of course, most, if not all, will work from home. However, being separated from work colleagues is not always so great — sometimes, there is just no substitute for face-to-face communication.

The age of connectivity

The world has never been more connected. As a result, we can enjoy flexible working arrangements and communicate in real-time with anyone on the planet.

‘Connectivity’, though, comes with a price. And, ironically, many workers actually feel more isolated and less connected.

This is because, even though office politics is a drag, interacting with colleagues fosters a feeling of camaraderie and togetherness.

Connecting teams

Nowbridge is an application that takes photos using the camera on your computer screen.  Every few seconds, these photos are exchanged with those of your contacts.

Rick, is a project manager for a property development company. Though based in Wellington, his team resides in Auckland. He explains that before Nowbridge, it was hard to keep track of everyone’s availability.

“I use Nowbridge every day. It allows me to see who is in the office. So, if I want to talk to them, I know whether they are available—it’s like a virtual office,” says Rick.

Privacy?

Now, if you think Nowbridge sounds like “Big Brother’, Rick says it is nothing of the sort and is no different to working in an office environment.

“You control who you connect with and when, and you can only be seen by the people you can see. If you’re not in the office and your computer isn’t on, the other person just sees a blank screen.”

He points out that there is no sound and none of the images are recorded.

One of the main benefits, Rick explains, is it provides the illusion of being together, which is important when working on joint projects.

“As an employee, you feel part of the team, so your behaviour is similar to if you worked in an office,” says Rick.

Also, don’t worry about offending someone whose face you don’t want to see every day. If you choose not to connect with a colleague, they will just see a black space where your image should be. For all they know, you could be out of the office or not using Nowbridge.

For those in Wellington

Luckily, Rick wasn’t affected by the recent earthquake. However, he believes Nowbridge would be a an ideal solution for reconnecting displaced workers.

If you would like to learn about Nowbridge, see the website at www.nowbridge.com.

Remote Working for Office Workers

Even if you work in an office it is great to work remotely from time to time.  Working remotely can be very productive if you are properly set up.  You might consider working from home one day a week to get some time away from the distractions and interruptions of office life.  Here are some suggestions to make working remotely easier.

1. Have a remote office

Even if you only work remotely occasionally, try to have a dedicated space with a desk, a phone and a computer where you can work in peace and comfort.

2. Use remote access

You can always carry a computer with you but try to get into the habit of accessing your work computer remotely, for example with Remote Desktop Connection which is built into Windows.  That way you have access to your work computer but without the need to carry it around, avoiding the risks of loss or damage.  If you don’t know how to remotely access your computer here are some instructions or talk to your office IT administrator. Remote access can be configured to share the clipboard between machines so copying and pasting between your remote and work computers is possible. You can also set it up to print on your remote printer from your work computer. To use remote access you need to leave your work computer running.

3. Consider an IP phone

Some IP phones can be configured to ring simultaneously in two or more locations. You can set this up so that your desk phone at work will also ring in your remote office so you can pick it up wherever you are.  Having an IP phone in your remote office that is connected to your corporate PABX means you can have a second line at no extra cost to keep your home line free (if you have one) and you can dial your colleagues using extension short dial numbers to speed things up.  Good IP phones allow you to conference in more than one caller at a time or you can use a teleconference facility for group discussions.

4. Use Nowbridge

Nowbridge helps overcome many of the issues that can arise from working remotely.  When you use Nowbridge you can see and be seen by your colleagues just as you can when you are at work.  This helps to stay in touch with and feel part of a team and it helps to overcome the feelings of isolation that might otherwise arise.

5. Use video conferencing

Video conferencing with applications such as Skype or Appear.In is almost the same as meeting in person but can save a lot of travel.  It is possible to join multiple parties to the call.  If your call would disturb others, consider using headphones with a built in microphone.  Having two cameras can make it easier to use both Nowbridge and video conferencing.

6. Use cloud-based services

There are lots of services and productivity tools that can be accessed through the cloud. Consider using those that are relevant to you to make it easier to access information direct from your home computer. For example, One Note and Evernote are much better than physical notepads because you can access your notes from any device.

7. Dress for work

Consider dressing as if you are going into the office. This allows you to draw a mental distinction between when you are ‘at work’ and when you are not, even if you work from home.

8. Minimize distractions

Working remotely occasionally or often can be productive and effective, but it is important to minimize any distractions within your remote environment.

9. Remember to take breaks and keep regular hours

It is easy to get absorbed in your work when you are away from the distractions of the office so remember to take breaks from time to time.  Unless you are very busy or it suits your way of working, avoid the temptation to work outside business hours so you maintain the right balance with your other priorities.

10. Make time for exercise

When you work from home you miss out on your daily commute.  That saves time but it might mean you don’t take as many steps in the day.  Use some of the time you save by not having to commute to go for a walk or do some exercise at some time during the day.

Remote workers can stay in the picture

Woman's hands keyboarding on net-book while sitting in cafe

People working remotely are sometimes out of sight, out of mind.  This works both ways.  Those in the office can forget about their remote colleagues and so leave them out of key discussions and decision making.  Those who are working remotely can feel isolated and disconnected from the team.  In the office interaction is easy and so there are frequent micro-interactions: you can ask your neighbor a quick question or pass on a comment in a very natural way.  Communicating remotely with someone could involve ringing or emailing them without knowing if they will answer right away – potentially wasting your time or getting a response too late to be useful.

Technology can help to overcome these issues.  Video chat rooms are very powerful for interacting at a distance, although they need to be arranged.  Things like status indicators can help show when people are present and available.  The most accurate form of status indicator is a recent photo.  Nowbridge exchanges small still images between contacts every few seconds to convey the illusion of being together.  Remote workers have to compromise a degree of their privacy just as they do when they are in the office but they gain a visual connection to those they work closely with that can overcome the distance between them.

Introducing Nowbridge

Nowbridge is a new concept in on-line presence.  Whether you work in a large office or remotely, you can’t always be with the people you are closest to.  Wouldn’t it be useful if you could see them though?

Nowbridge exchanges small still images every few seconds with your contacts.  You can see if they are there, if they are free, so you can ask a quick question knowing you will get a reply.  You will feel part of a team even if you are alone.

The exchange of images on Nowbridge is mutual so you can only be seen my the people you can see.  You can control who you connect with and when.

Nowbridge is not like a chat room.  You can connect with anyone on Nowbridge whether or not you are part of a group.  You can set up groups on Nowbridge but each member can still individually choose who they connect to and when.

Nowbridge is not intended to replace your other means of communication.  Instead, it works along side those other methods, allowing you extra visibility of those you are closest to.