BusinessBrew is based in Dublin and Copenhagen. Nikita is Dutch and I’m German. You can see where this is going, we travel a lot. And, as much as we’d like to just work via “phone-office”, you need to get the laptop out and get some serious work done. Over Christmas and New Years, we’ve traveled a lot and here are some of our learnings. Hope they help you find a good place to work on the go the next time you travel.
The parent's couch
I love my parent's house. My mum goes Christmas mad, it’s quiet and someone brings you tea and biscuits. There isn’t an office in the home, so I tend to commandeer the couch for work. Even when I’m officially off (does that still exist?), I tend to do a couple of hours each day I’m here. That’s all the great stuff, the bad stuff...well, there are a lot of disruptions. My favourite, the very distinct well intended whisper of “Shhhhhh, she’s working!!!”. The other, the Internet connection isn’t the best. Anything that needs to load just takes a lot of time, video calls can be tough.
I’ve gotten into the habit of making sure that I get up early, ahead of everyone else to get a couple of hours of undisturbed work in. That way, I can have a chilled breakfast with the family and then decide where to take the laptop next without having to rush. For some reason, the Internet plays ball at 7.30am, too.
Takeaway: If you work from your parent’s couch, make sure you get some uninterrupted work time and the Internet works for you.
The friend's house
This year, I managed two variations of this. The first was my friend in Hamburg who knew of my Internet connection problems at home. She was back at work and gave me her spare key to use her home as my office for the day. This was ideal. I love working out of different spaces to get new perspectives, but don’t like working from a cafe. My friend's couch and dinner table were a great alternative. And the best thing, we got to have an after work drink when she got home!
I also visited a friend in Berlin and combined it with a few meetings. He works freelance from home and together we converted his living room into our office. I loved that we both concentrated on work and then took little breaks in between times for tea and chats.
Takeaway: If you work from your friend's house, get a key if they are away or make sure your friend is working too.
I mentioned above, I don’t really like working out of cafes. I find the noise distracting and tend to people watch rather than getting real work done. Personally, having to pack up my stuff to go to the loo and then wondering if I’ll lose my table, or considering how many coffees I should order during a two hour session are just a pain...I know this one works for many of you, so I’d be really eager to hear how you handle this (seriously, leave a comment below, I’d appreciate it!).
I’ve done a few sessions while waiting for friends or trains on the most recent trip. Surprisingly, metropolitan Hamburg has close to zero WiFi in the main train station - fail. While Berlin Hauptbahnhof has some great WiFi but I found it hard to find a quiet spot. Also, plugs...apparently, they are a very rare thing in some places.
Takeaway: If you are working from a cafe on the go, first ask if they have WiFi before ordering your coffee. Bring a charge pack or be sure there is a power outlet available.
The final spot for me to work from on this trip was the train. And I loved it! Not only was the connection in the ICE train of the Deutsche Bahn great, but there were plugs, comfy seats and a snack cart. Who doesn’t love a snack cart?! Germans are considered sticklers for rules, so it’s important to understand the do's and don’ts. I realised that I was in a “Ruhe Abteil” (quiet cart) on the way to Berlin. Even the tapping of the keyboard earned some funny looks.
Because the WiFi was so great on the way to Berlin, I arranged a few calls for the way back and set aside some work to be done. Unfortunately, WiFi was not turned off for this journey although advertised. The train goes through the middle of nowhere, no signal strong enough for data or a call. Fail.
Takeaway: If you are working from a train or other transport method, make sure that it’s acceptable to talk, type etc where you are sitting. Don’t rely on connections working every time.
Work is becoming more fluid. Not only are most of us dealing with customers, colleagues and advisors in different time zones but we generally find we work better with a regular change of scenery. This means no set hours and no set workplace. Personally, I’m more productive and deliver a concentrated effort on the go. My learnings from this trip were, when venturing outside of our home office or other office space it’s important to be sure that:
- There is a good WiFi connection
- It suits your noise level
- You don’t have too many distractions
- You don’t disturb others with your work
We’d love to hear where you work best on the go, any tips and tricks - just leave them in the comment section below.