Where is the best or worst place you’ve worked remotely?
I’ve worked in 22 countries so far, and that alone has been pretty great. The worst place was in an airplane, which no one should ever do. I got free in-flight Wi-Fi from the airline and just decided hey, let’s see how this goes. It just made the flight more stressful. The best would have been in a small, cozy café in Vancouver, British Columbia. It had a loft in it that you could see the mountains from. I just want to move in there.
Worst – wherever there is intermittent internet connectivity!
Best – Shaw Island, Washington.
Worst is probably large family gatherings where there’s lots of people I want to talk to and lots of people that want to talk to me (also because who wants to be that family member working on the phone in the corner). I loved working remotely while we were in Maui for a couple weeks. Nothing beats working on the balcony overlooking the ocean.
Authentic Form & Function
There’s nothing quite worse than sitting down at a chic coffee shop with a fresh drink, only to find out the internet connection is barely usable for email.
The very best spot I’ve worked remotely in the past would have to be on the Shinkansen in Japan, penning a few thoughts while traveling by rail. Even though I wasn’t wifi connected at the time, it was amazing to sit back and consider how remote work enabled me such flexibility.
Airplanes can be the best and worst place to work, depending on your seatmates and the flight. I often get some of my best thinking time on airplanes (especially transatlantic flights) because they’re one of the few places where you have fewer interruptions.
Worst location is a rental car, while my husband and I were driving from Ohio to Oregon on a summer road trip in 2013. Phone data coverage was spotty a lot of the time as we got out West and I would spend ages trying to send a single email. Best location is my friends’ house in Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria in the UK. They have a view out over Morecambe Bay from their living room and it was a spectacular backdrop to my work day.
Ubud in Bali still holds very near and dear to my heart. I was there in 2012 – just as the local ecosystem was growing with TEDxUbud, Hubud and numerous coliving initiatives including Startup Abroad. I also loved Tulum and Playa del Carmen in Mexico. I don’t have any worst locations as such – I don’t look back fondly of Vancouver because I was working remotely in 2011 while completing my masters thesis and that was just a torturous experience. I was recently in Boulder for a week where it absolutely poured back-to-back so feel it didn’t showcase as much of the benefits to being based there. Basically, there’s a pattern emerging here – it needs to be warm and sunny for me to love it!
I have a quick story about what was for a day or two the temporary worst location I worked remotely. Back in 2008, I lived in Seattle and worked at Microsoft during a very severe snowstorm. Typically, few people worked from home, but during the storm, few people could get to work, so a lot of people worked from home. Or, at least, we attempted too. So many people tried connecting to the VPN, that we effectively DOS-ed the system. I was thus unable to connect and had to really take a snow day.
The best location I’ve worked remotely is at my current job and apartment!
My “worst” was also the funniest for me: Jury Duty. They had free Wi-Fi and there is always a lot of waiting around, so I used it to work. I even joined some conference calls on “listen only” mode so I would not miss any team news. The best place is on a snowy cold day in the house. It reminds me how great my situation is that I do not have to fight ice and snow and bad traffic, I can instead concentrate on doing a good job!
Bad wifi no matter where you are is the worst. My best thinking is probably on airplanes or I’ve really enjoyed blending some work and family. So, I’ve had some productive moments in long car rides with my wife driving and me tethering into the team. It’s a mindset, really. Make every moment count.
Earlier this fall, I spent the day working in a grassy area nestled in the middle of Catholic University’s campus. It was a few yards from where Pope Francis would celebrate a canonization mass as part of his much anticipated visit to the U.S. It was awesome to be present at such an exciting event (even if I only watched the festivities via a large screen, live feed). I did something for myself, plus I had quite a productive work day!
This is a tough one. I’m not one to think that the best place is on a beach somewhere. When I’m working best, I’m probably either in a coffee shop with great pour overs or I’m in my office depending on what type of project I’m working on. The worst place is always where wifi is terrible.
I’ve had some really productive times working in coffee shops and mid-flight on planes, but also other times those same environments have been terrible. Most of the time what makes the difference to me is my frame of mind, so I find that to get a predictable level of productivity, nothing beats my home-office. It’s a known quantity, and I have almost complete control over distractions, so even in a poor state of mind I can still achieve a suitable level of focus.
Go Fish Digital
It’s usually a family member’s house during a trip. Extended family and in-laws never seem to have good internet connections – it is like a rule or something.
Greenback Expat Tax Services
Worst place: a house in Mas, outside of Ubud, several years ago. The internet line was weak and would go down every time it rained (and we moved into the house in the rainy season). I remember painstakingly scheduling meetings that would overlap with California/Bali/NY and then 50% of the time, having my internet connection go out midway through the call. We lasted only about a month in that house until we moved to the south of Bali where internet was more reliable.
Best place: I like working out of our co-working space in Bali. But I also love the buzz of coffee shops and the feeling of being immersed in my own (working) world while listening to the buzz and hum of life around me. There are 2 or 3 coffee shops near me that I frequent and find I’m really productive. Where I work definitely depends on what I am working on. A strategy document is a great thing to work on in a coffee shop but a financial model requires me to be in the office with a big screen and space to stretch out.
Back in those days when I used to work almost 24/7? Trains, buses, planes, hotel rooms, and hostel rooms. There’s nothing quite like taking an amazing trip through the length of Vietnam and almost ruining your thumbs by running your business in a series of huge emails instructing people to do things back at home. The best place? Well, it varies, but those moments where you’re sitting somewhere different, doing a few hours of your workday, and you catch yourself thinking “man, this is really something special”. There’s no feeling quite like working from the middle of a jungle and knowing that once you shut your laptop, you’ll be done for the day and ready to take a dip in the pool!
For me the worst is the coffee shop or out in the open in a public space. I just don’t get how people do it. I need to have tunnel vision when I write and I plug in my headphones and turn up my Noisli app (usually the sounds of rain and a crackling fireplace). The best? My room or a library.
Worst was a Lake House my family rented with a wifi router circa 1915. I had to work in the kitchen on top of the microwave 2 inches from the router for 3 days standing up, while little kids ran past me screaming all day. Not an ideal space. But, I still liked it better than cubicle days of old.
Great question! I love taking my laptop and finding a great, local restaurant (with wifi and outlets) for an extended lunch once each week. Otherwise, I typically work from my Vancouver apartment or local coffee shop.
Worst: Whenever getting my car’s oil changed or something else done. At least the time is productive.
Best: Anytime I find myself sitting on a patio at a restaurant on a day with really nice weather. I think of all the people stuck in their offices while I am hard at work, perhaps with a cold pint nearby.
Worst: In Cuba, having only a cell phone, bad internet and at a bus station. It was raining as hell and we had an emergency, which we finally fixed but I was completely wet at the end. Best: Also in Cuba, at the beach with a laptop, good internet reception from the hotel and a cold beer next to me. 🙂
Places without a strong wifi connection can be difficult to work remotely from. Many countries overseas do not have the technology available that we do, which can sometimes be tricky. The best places I have worked remotely from are anywhere that I can put my feet up and enjoy some sunshine at the same time!
Worst location? Hmm, probably middle of nowhere Florida 🙂 The best location – Amsterdam (hands down!).
Worst: a local coffee shop that started playing Christmas music on November 1.
Best: my villa’s balcony when I was on holiday in Italy.
I’ve answered work emails from a lot of places. The worst has probably been public restrooms while waiting for a kid to “go”. The weirdest? Maybe on an amusement park ride. The best – definitely on a balcony overlooking the ocean in Maui.
Worst – Anywhere where Internet is not stable.
Best – This is so tough to decide! A few of the best:
- The Infinity Pool at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
- A coffee shop beside a remote beach in the Philippines
- Right beside my playing toddler. 🙂
- Next to a ski slope in a small Japanese town
- Next to the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in sight
- From a boat in rural Vietnam!
I worked for a month from Barbados in 2014 and Hawaii in 2010 from a condo overlooking good surf. I love the flexibility my life provides. Perhaps the greatest place was from the NICU for a month while my son incubated. The high life is amazing, but the freedom to be there when my family needed me and still be able to run my business and engage with my team is priceless.
The worst (and I hate to say this because the place itself is magical) would have to be Bali. The WIFI was just not up to scratch when I last visited. The best would be an inspiring little co-working space in Stockholm, Sweden called Knackeriet.
Must Have Menus
Hawaii was the worst, ha! It was bad because the daily calls were at 7:00 a.m., and who wants to be on the phone that early! Also, the reception wasn’t great. Europe can be great for remote working. Being online and catching up before the workday allows me to feel more prepared when we have group discussions.
Worst place is definitely any airplane without wifi or worse, slow wifi.
Best place is Montego Bay, Jamaica.
After a big storm we had no power or Internet at home for a couple of days, so I had to find a place where I could work from. I never forget how bad it was to work from noisy restaurants or coffee shops. The best place I worked from? The cabin I shared with some of my colleagues in Split, Croatia, where we held one of our company events. We were sharing some chocolate and discussing ideas with the nice sound of the sea waves as background.
I’ve worked remotely pretty much since I started my professional life in 2000. First fixing computers (that I brought home to repair), then managing servers, then programming, then managing a local company, and finally here at Scrapinghub where I took the best of my previous experiences to build the remote working company I always wanted to work for.
Worst: working at home with my daughter crying in the background.
Best: On the beach somewhere tropical like Dominican
My parents live on the West Coast and I usually spend Christmas with them in California. Although we have West Coasters on the team, the majority of the team is in Central or Eastern time zones, which means that by the time I wake up in California they’re already going! It’s wonderful to be able to travel and see my family while still working, but sometimes it also totally stinks. No one really WANTS to work from bed over the holidays. I remember one day doing a bunch of work early in the morning from bed and thinking “It’s awesome: I worked from bed, but it’s also terrible: I worked from bed!”
My family is originally from Iceland so last year my husband (who’s a teacher) and I spent four weeks at my family’s home in Reykjavik, the capital city. It was an amazing luxury to get to be there for so long and not have to even give my work a second thought because it just came with me!
I’m a pretty mobile worker, so I’d say I have always worked remotely no matter my location or job. However, I’ve had two experiences working remotely full time. First was back in the 80’s, when my wife started grad school at University of Minnesota. My company in New York allowed me to telecommute so we could move out there together. The second is working here at Sococo, and working out of my home office. I’d have to say, that the tools we have at our disposal in this day and age make working at Sococo much, much easier than my time talking on the phone and using faxes and modems to share data!
Worst – can’t name any.
Best – Hartbespoort near Johannesburg, South Africa during European winter 🙂
I don’t really have a best and worst location. Anytime Wifi isn’t working it’s a problem but that could be anywhere. Recently, we had a mini retreat at a cabin in Upstate, NY and that was quite nice.
The worst location is one where I don’t have a fixed schedule + location to work. I need some basics to be a successful remote worker. This includes a consistent place to call home, an easily accessible gym membership, a place with internet and a quiet spot.
The best location is probably my home, or Lake Tahoe cabin (see below).
Summit CPA Group
The best place for sure is in the bleachers — watching my son’s baseball game.
Sutherland Global Services
Best – I love the occasional quiet morning in a local coffee shop, Port City Java, if I can get away and am not required to be on the telephone. Worst – haven’t found it yet! 🙂
Worst must be a late night call in an airport hotel room you’ve been stuffed for a cancelled flight, with almost-nonexistent wifi and half-eaten banana left on the sheets by the cleaning person.
Once your work allows you to go remote you will find many more of the “bests” every new day, from the Pacific views in a Santa Monica beach highrise or on Maui to ski cabins with high sun melting the icicles behind your window. But I think I’ll pick a work session in my summer house on the Saaremaa island in the Baltic Sea where I got everything done over 4G while keeping watch of a slow-cooking leg of lamb in the outdoors smoker oven for 6 hours.
The Cheat Sheet
I’m picky about my work locations so the worst place I’ve worked was a busy McDonald’s, which really wasn’t that bad. The best place is simply my home office.
Worst location is probably going to be tomorrow. It’s my youngest son’s first day of daycare. I want to be present, but not get in the way of him integrating with the programme. So my plan is to find a corner and do some work in a room full of 2 year olds. If that’s not work/life blend, I’m not sure what is. 🙂
Best location is, of course, home.
Anywhere that has unreliable Internet, although I really haven’t had much of a problem with that in the last few years. New Zealand and Australia were maybe the worst. Prepaid 3G was very expensive, but the time zone was the real problem. It’s 19 hours ahead of San Francisco, so collaborating with people in California means waking up at 3AM, and your Saturdays/Mondays are complicated because your colleagues expect you to be working.
The best place to work remotely? Probably Budapest. Budapest is amazing. It’s very inexpensive, and it’s an incredibly fun city. We actually moved there for a year to work on Toptal after I finished university, and I’ve been going back regularly ever since.
China because of the Great Firewall. I never realized how often I use Google and social media.
The best places have always been about who is there (then the Wi-Fi speeds). I enjoyed working from the Hive in Bangkok because of the great people I met there. We’ve also had great times on our retreats in San Sebastian, Montreal, Lisbon, and New Orleans.
On a Greek island a few years ago. No Wi-Fi at all! Impossible. I was running around like a crazy person to find Wi-Fi. It was impossible.
Universal Mind, Inc.
I haven’t encountered any bad remote locations yet. Best, would be working from a sailboat.
Worst was in the car at a rest stop off the I90 freeway. I had the laptop on the car roof to try and boost the cellphone signal while fixing a broken server.
The best has been a family home in Colorado where I’ve come up with every major successful product idea I’ve had, usually while there on vacation. I think it’s something about the 6000ft altitude. Perhaps oxygen deprivation has a positive effect on the mind.
In a car, on the side of the road near Hell’s Canyon (in Oregon) was both one the worst and one of the best. The worst, because it was hot and I was pretty sure that a rancher up the road would think I was stalking their place and come out with a rifle. The best, because I’d just camped in Hell’s Canyon, got a sunrise hike in and didn’t have to take a day off of work. I just had to drive out of the canyon a ways and find cell phone reception on the side of the road to call into a meeting and get some coding done