Beyond Cafes & Co-Working Spaces: 7 Of The Best Places To Work When You Work For Yourself

best places to work, Stephanie Holland, the freedom philosophy

When you quit your job to work on your business full time, working from home is such a treat.

But pretty quickly you’ll find that the quiet and alone time you previously craved can become boring if you don’t mix it up a little.

Different projects and tasks required different settings, locations and resources. (And coffee.)

And sometimes the buzz of the world fuels your inspiration, creativity and productivity.

Being ‘out’ in the world is also a nice reminder that there’s more to life that your project and your business; it’s a handy contextual reminder of the bigger picture for your life and work. Alone at home you can get caught up in a lot of stuff that doesn’t really matter. That’s a very powerful realisation for your work style.

Cafes and co-working spaces, however, might not suit your needs either.

I’ve tried to love co-working spaces but with everyone staring at their laptops all day and chatting over the water cooler I just end up feeling like I’m in an office again. Plus they can be expensive if you’re bootstrapping, especially if you get hooked into their different membership levels, workshops, coaching & masterminds.

And cafes? I get frustrated fighting over wall sockets at overcrowded cafes filled with ‘digital nomads’.

It’s the same scenario; everyone immersed in their virtual world oblivious to the world around them. Many order one coffee while they work there the whole day, draining another business of it’s resources, which boils my blood.

Intelligentsia on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, LA caught on fast. Back in 2009 they quickly blocked their sockets to stop laptop entrepreneurs hogging the seating all day. Very smart.

So where else does that leave us?

Quite a few places, actually.

Here Are My 7 Best Places to Work When You Work For Yourself

1. Specialised Co-Working Cafe Hybrid

Yes, you can actually find cafes created specifically for small business owners, entrepreneurs and the digital nomad set.

In the usual cafe setting, you can book tables, work all day long and drink as much coffee as you like without pissing anyone off because that’s exactly what these places are designed for.

Rally Coffee in Philadelphia, USA is on such place.

I discovered it in October 2016 when I was cat sitting in the Loft District. An easy bike ride from downtown, they had great coffee, a nice buzz and of course flawless internet.

They are a custom-designed blend of neighborhood coffee shop, event space, co-working space, and creative agency in one place.

I can only hope that more of these pop up in more places around the world, and then someone creates an online directory for them so we can find them easily.

2. Art Gallery Cafes

What I love most about art gallery cafes is that they are blissfully quiet either side of lunch, giving you a morning or afternoon of inspired thinking or writing time.

Try not to feel inspired as you walk through the collections and then sit down with a double espresso and your notebook.

3. National, City or University Libraries

When I want to feel really smart I work from libraries.

I’ve always loved being surrounded by books. El Pendulo bookstore cafe in Mexico City is my favourite book spot in the entire world with its old-world glam, but I also love Elliot Bay Bookstore (and its incredible cafe) in Seattle and Powells in Portland.

But libraries take it to a whole other level. Not the musty, moth-ball kind, but the ones that have been loved and invested in over time, and sometimes mix beautiful architecture with modern design in a great, urban location.

I love working in Santa Monica Library, LA (not beautiful, but awesome collections & great internet), the McGill University Library in Montreal (weirdly I love the Life Sciences collections seating area and all those wall sockets!), and The State Library of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, which is ultra modern.

4. Theatre Bars

The National Theatre on London’s Southbank is the perfect spot for people watching and soaking up creative energy. All sorts of people meet for work & social; creatives gather to review Advertising campaigns before big pitches, coaches meet clients, MILF’s meet for coffee. And then there’s me, watching the world go by and working amongst it.

I love Soho Theatre in London, too. It’s a good spot for brainstorming because it’s so full of life and slap bang in the middle of one of the most vibrant parts of the entire city.

5. Vineyard Restaurants

When I lived in Margaret River, Australia I discovered the bliss of working in vineyard restaurants.

What you may not know about the Australian wine scene is that it’s culinary scene is one of the best kept secrets in the world. The combination of wifi and tasty treats in idyllic landscapes is hard to resist.

I would pitch up to my favourite spot, order an espresso and a chocolate hazelnut friand fresh from the oven and write my newsletters while gazing out over the vines.

6. A Friend’s House

If most of your friends are still in the 9-5 then you have a lot of virtual offices to choose from. If their place is empty the entire day, then you could be gazing out of a much nicer window from a much nicer kitchen counter than your own.

I’ve been blessed. One friend let me shoot all the video lessons for The Freedom Philosophy Classes from her riverside apartment in Richmond, London. She’s away from 7am-8pm at her corporate job and with such incredible floor to ceiling light it made the perfect, silent film set for my first ever online classroom.

Another friend came to the rescue with her thunderbolt internet speed. I was due to be interviewed by an online talk show and my connection was down. One quick phonecall later I was on my way to her place. She was only too happy to help out and, anyway, she was off the theatre!

If you want to work from home but need a change of scene, just ask your friends.

7. Manicured Gardens

My favourite spot in my hometown of Wimbledon, London is Cannizaro Park. There’s a particular tree I like to sit under. I can write for hours in the shade and I’m very close to a lovely Earl Grey tea when I’m ready to take a break.

Writing under trees has become a theme in my work style. I wrote my first book under a Japanese cherry tree in Portland, and my second under another in a forest cafe near Byron Bay, Australia.

I’ve had to train myself out of the need for wifi. I don’t always need it, so why restrict myself? Better to plug into nature for creative inspiration.

What Are Your Favourite Places?

If you can add more ideas for the best places to work when you work for yourself I’d love to hear them!

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Image: Andrew Neel via Unsplash