How to stay productive when working from airports, cafés and hotels

This post is an excerpt from my book DISTRIBUTED.

Because you can work from anywhere it doesn’t mean you have to work from anywhere. But there are times when you need to work on-the-go or wherever you are at that moment. Apart from your home and coworking offices, you have options to work from public spaces. Airports, hotels, cafés, beaches, libraries and other public areas that are not designed for work but they can be suitable for work if needed. I tried to summarise my tips on these spaces here, so run them through.

Have a solid internet alternative. The Internet is your office so make sure you have a solid connection, no matter what. Sure most of these public spaces offer internet and WiFi but they either don’t come cheap or they are not very reliable. They break down or just plain and simple too slow to work on. Sure you can do emails through them, but what if your work needs more than just checking and writing an email. My suggestion is to subscribe to a mobile internet package. If you travel a lot, try services like KnowRoaming which offers global 3G coverage anywhere. They are not cheap but you can have a solid 3-4G on-demand anywhere when the shit hits the fan. Also buy a MiFi router, a tool which you can use to share the mobile internet with your laptop (I use a NetGear Aircard). I only used these services once or twice but those were lifesavers at that time. 

This goes without saying but make sure that the public space has an open WiFi in the first place. If you are traveling, WiFi at the hotel is a must and read the reviews on that WiFi first. It should come before the swimming pool reviews. Do some research and planning before you go the public space and find out if you need to register somewhere to receive the internet connection. Some airports, libraries, and cafés have mandatory registration. 

Upgrade when it is possible. These public spaces are inexpensive anyway and they are easily upgradeable so you can receive a better service. At the airports, go to the business lounge at all costs. The Internet is much more reliable there. At the hotel room, check which room has the best coverage, sometimes it’s not even through the whole hotel, and ask for an upgrade on the service. Go to high-end cafés if you can, they have a more reliable internet connection. At the library, check the private reading rooms with secluded spaces.

Have a headphone. Most of these spaces are super-noisy and you want to do some work. You need a noise-canceling headset or mic as well if you want to do some calls on the go too.

Invest in a tablet or a portable laptop. I have a 13” MacBook Pro which is my workhorse and when I am at home, I have a second screen plugged in. I picked this laptop not because of the reliability but because of the size. I would not go with a 15” as it is too heavy and harder to carry when I travel. When I am at home, size does not matter, I do my work on the second screen anyway. When I am traveling, the laptop is still portable. A tablet is also a good call. Even if you can carry your workstation, most of the public spaces have limited space to work on, so make sure your workhorse can fit into small spaces. Also, don’t forget to invest in a solid external battery so you can keep on working when a charger is far away (I use an Anker PowerCore).

I don’t like to work in public spaces and only treat them as necessities. I work there because I have to, not because I want to. I always plan ahead so when I know I might be working from a public space, I always make sure I am ready for it. Ultimately, as a remote entrepreneur, you only need a laptop and internet to operate your business. This sounds cool but you always have to make sure you have the best and most reliable connection and the best tool to work on that can fit into a flexible working environment.

Of course, there is that stereotypical picture of a digital nomad working from a golden beach from a laptop. But that picture is rarely true and it is mostly on the Instagram. I don’t judge and I admit, I worked from a beach in Italy, from a rooftop terrace in Malta and like most of the airports in Europe and from countless hotel rooms and cafés but I rarely did actual deep and focused work from there. Even with serious planning ahead. Maybe it is not my thing and maybe it might be your thing but make sure if you have to work outside an office from your home, you plan ahead and have all the tools and gadgets to make things right.

Nothing can be more frustrating than missing a sales call because of a bad WiFi at the hotel.



At Anywhere Consulting, we help entrepreneurs to launch, build and grow their remote business. We provide support and consulting services as well as educational products to overcome the challenges of remote businesses. If you are a freelancer who wants to launch a distributed business or you already have an established business but want to grow remotely, we can help you.