The pop-up workspace: how to choose the right spot for better productivity
What to consider in a remote workspace
At a Glance: Get creative when it comes to finding a remote study spot. Even public transportation can be your temporary office while you’re between errands.
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Roughly 3.7 million employees—that’s almost 3 percent of the workforce—work remotely at least half of the time. And the number of regular telecommuters is up 103 percent since 2005.
If you find yourself in this rapidly growing group, you might already have your perfect remote workstation. But if you’re new to the ranks of digital work nomads (or just need a place to do your University of Phoenix coursework away from kids), here are a few things to consider when selecting the perfect office away from the office:
Some tasks require lots of space to spread out books, papers, notecards and multiple devices. Others are fairly self-contained. Consider how physically large your to-do list is before you choose a cozy corner at the library and can’t make the mess you need to work or study effectively.
While Wi-Fi is the rule for most public spaces these days, some coffee shops and diners opt for an “unplugged” atmosphere. And some public workspaces have time limits. Be sure to check the Wi-Fi situation before you snag a space.
Noise and activity level:
According to a study published in “The Journal of Consumer Research,” “a moderate (70dB) vs. low (50 dB) level of ambient noise enhances performance on creative tasks.” Coffee shops tend to clock in right around that level of white noise, making them favorites for tackling creative problem solving and abstract thinking activities. And the coffee’s not bad, either!
Few factors hinder productivity more than a room that’s too hot or too cold. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration recommends employers keep indoor air temps between 68 and 76 degrees. Pick a spot that’s cool enough so you stay alert, but not so cold you can’t focus on your work or schoolwork.
If your day is filled with running around, don’t leave home without the materials and technology (including chargers!) you need to get work done. Any waiting room, gym lobby, hotel conference space or mode of public transportation can be your temporary office between errands.
Your neighborhood café or office cafeteria may offer a convenient spot to set up shop. But even occasional interruptions from familiar faces can threaten productivity. If you like the spot but not the interruptions, try facing away from high-traffic areas or wearing headphones or earbuds.
For certain creative or listening tasks (i.e., lectures, podcasts), a walk in the park or on a treadmill could be the perfect setting for success. Research shows that exercise may have important benefits for cognitive performance. Plus, exercise boosts endorphin's—those feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain that can help increase motivation and energy levels.
Co-working spaces (and even some office supply retail chains) offer fully loaded workstations with options for printing, scanning, copying, faxing, collating, stapling, etc. Since they’re not typically free, they make a better final destination than an afternoon hotspot. But in terms of functionality, they’ve got pretty much everything our modern work and school lives require.