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Many remote professionals seek public spaces with Wi-Fi for a change in scenery during the work day. This can reduce feelings of claustrophobia, create healthy boundaries between work and home life and increase daily enjoyment.

However, a poorly planned remote work excursion can also reduce focus, decrease productivity and increase cyber risk.

Drawbacks of Public Spaces

Although the buzz of a coffee shop or restaurant may be a welcome change from your home work environment, working in public spaces may include certain disadvantages. Before working remotely, consider the following:

  • Seating isn’t guaranteed.
  • Wi-Fi can be unreliable.
  • Network connections may be unsafe.
  • Phone and video calls are typically discouraged.
  • There is consistent risk of background noise or interruptions.
  • Outlets may be unavailable. Access is limited to your laptop.
  • Distractions may be more common and disruptive.
  • Ordering food and beverages while working can be expensive.

Alternatives to cafes and restaurants include public libraries, co-working spaces, public parks and hotel lobbies. However, these spaces may have similar or nuanced drawback.

Advantages of Working Remotely in Public Spaces

Working in a relaxed atmosphere, such as a coffee shop or restaurant, can reduce stress, improve productivity and lower blood pressure. You may find that background noise and lack of interruptions from coworkers increase your productivity. Additionally, changing your environment can stimulate creativity and help you focus. Depending on your situation (e.g., you travel often, you lack suitable space for an in-home office or work for an organization that doesn’t have a physical office space), working from a public place may also be your best option for finding a quiet, comfortable setting.

Tips for Working  Remotely From Public Spaces

With proper planning, you may be able to mitigate many of the potential disadvantages of working in a public space. Here are some tips for working productively in these locations:

  • Avoid peak hours.
  • Bring a portable charger.
  • Sit near an outlet.
  • Don’t let chitchat derail your productivity.
  • Be conscious of social etiquette (e.g., order several items throughout the day, tip the staff and share the space with others).
  • Bring noise-canceling headphones.
  • Choose a co-working space (an arrangement that allows people from different companies to share an office space) or stay at home on meeting-heavy days.
  • Set daily goals before leaving the house.

Reducing Cyber Risk in Public Spaces

Using public Wi-Fi can increase your cyber risk. For this reason, many organizations have strict policies prohibiting the use of public Wi-Fi for work computers. Ask your manager if your organization has any policies that restrict or limit your ability to use publicly accessible networks.

If your organization allows the use of public Wi-Fi, you can enhance your cybersecurity with the following measures:

  • Use your organization’s virtual privacy network (VPN) or invest in one for yourself.
  • Research secure mobile hotspot options.
  • Position yourself to make it difficult for someone to look over your shoulder.
  • Invest in a screen protector.
  • Don’t rely on strangers to monitor your belongings, such as while you order a beverage or use the restroom.
  • Consult your IT department for more cybersecurity resources.

Conclusion

For some people, the ability to work from public spaces is a significant perk to working remotely. It can help create work-life boundaries and add crucial variation to the workday. For others, finding a public space to work is necessary to perform critical job functions. Whatever the reason, proper preparation is essential to ensure that a trip to your local coffee shop doesn’t reduce productivity and increase cyber risks.

For more employee benefits resources, contact INSURICA today.

This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2023 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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