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.

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?