Monthly Archives: May 2015

Get Out of the Office Revisited, Part 4: The Inn Place

If you need to have out-of-home meetings with clients or colleagues, and your budget is a little heftier, nearby hotels have meeting rooms you can rent, either for the whole day, several days, or even part of the day. They offer Internet access free or for a fee, and can provide A/V equipment such as projectors and whiteboards. You don’t even need to be a guest in the hotel. Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Courtyard by Marriott are some of the lower-cost options, while Marriotts, Hyatts, and Crown Plazas run on the higher end.

Hotels can also offer food service ranging from bottled water, to coffee service, to full-meal catering. Independently owned and operated hotels can offer a middle-ground and are worth investigating.

You can even get better deals during off seasons, which will vary by your specific location.

Get Out of the Office Revisited, Part 3: Talk to Toastmasters

For the past couple of weeks, we have been posting about places at which those who work from home can have out-of-home meetings with clients or colleagues, locations that are more professional than the local coffee shop or restaurant.

Depending on the type of meeting you need to have, you may be able to get a good lead on meeting space options by talking to a member or officer of your local Toastmasters club. Toastmasters International is an international organization dedicated to helping its members develop and improve their public speaking skills, and Toastmasters clubs meet in a wide variety of locations, from Chambers of Commerce offices, to community centers, libraries, corporate offices, and restaurants. In London, Toastmasters clubs even meet in pubs. Toastmasters officers often need to hold events in addition to club meetings, such as speech contests, officer training sessions, regional officers’ meetings, and more, and likely know all the options—especially the inexpensive ones—in any given geographical area. Over the 15 years that Richard has been a member of Toastmasters, he has had to plan numerous events—and even find regular meeting locations for the clubs of which he is a member—and thus knows every free and for-pay meeting space in a fifty-mile radius of Albany, New York.  You can search for the nearest club by ZIP code on the Toastmasters International website. And, as we’ll advise in a later post, you may even want to attend a meeting!

Get Out of the Office Revisited, Part 2: Churches and Community Centers

Libraries are not the only places to have out-of-the-office meetings. Churches sometimes have spaces—and classroom spaces—that go largely unused during the week, and rent the rooms out for a minimum stipend as way of raising funds. Membership in the congregation is not always required. Some even have surprisingly good A/V facilities. You may have conflicts with other events, but unless you meet on Saturdays or Sundays, they’re often available.

Municipalities often have community centers that are comfortable and well outfitted. Reservations are usually required and may have to be made months in advance. If you think you will need the space often, thoroughly investigate the schedule and block out a time slot. Like church facilities, community centers are generally very affordable. As an example, the Malta, New York, Community Center charges as low as $10 an hour for a meeting room.

Chambers of Commerce typically have meeting rooms, and—by dint of being in a Chamber of Commerce office—are professional. Availability may be limited to after their normal business hours, however, and for a nominal fee. The Southern Saratoga Chamber of Commerce has a location in Clifton Park, New York, and it costs only $25 to use the meeting room after hours. Some larger real estate firms or banks might also be willing to offer a similar arrangement.

Your local YMCA is also worth investigating. The Saratoga Springs YMCA has an excellent meeting room, equipped with the latest A/V capabilities, and it’s free. As with any meeting space, advance reservations are required.

Next week, we’ll look at some pricier options.

Get Out of the Office Revisited, Part 1: Back to the Library

Last week, we looked at some of the out-of-home locations at which you can have meetings with colleagues and clients. These were relatively informal, like restaurants, bookstores, and cafés. But what if you need a more professional space, or one that will allow you to show a presentation? This next batch of posts will look at some options.

Probably the biggest determinant of where you can have a meeting will be your budget. Depending on the community you are located in, you may have some pretty decent free options.

Last week, we wrote about public libraries as good external meeting spaces, and they may be able to offer some more professional meeting options, as well. They often have meeting rooms or classrooms and can provide A/V facilities and equipment. Depending on the community, you may need to reserve far in advance—and some (not all) require the person booking the room to be a cardholder at the library. Some branches are more flexible about this requirement than others, we have found.

And, indeed, digital technologies are transforming public libraries. Libraries are now less about finding and reading books and more about providing Internet and electronic resources to the community, and as such libraries are becoming destinations for teleworkers. Check the libraries in and around your community if you ned to avail yourself of external meeting spaces.

Get Out of the Office, Part 2: Coffee Shops/Restaurants

Last week, we started looking at some out-of-the-home-office locations—in case you need to meet with colleagues or clients, or just want a change of scenery.

In addition to libraries and book stores, coffee shops can be excellent alternative work spaces. Starbucks and Panera locations, as well as many independent coffee shops, often have free wireless for customers. It is usually up to the management’s discretion to allow people to linger beyond a certain length of time without buying anything, but buying at least one thing—a cup of coffee or tea, a bagel, etc.—would be the courteous thing to do.

If coffee is not your thing and it’s lunchtime, many restaurants and bars offer free WiFi as well (not that we advocate drinking on the job).

There may be more practical reasons to get out of the home office: you may need to meet with others and don’t want to—or can’t—have them in your home office. In the next series of posts,  we’ll explore the options for having out-of-office meetings.

Get Out of the Office, Part 1: Libraries and Book Stores

As we pointed out in the last post, there are times when you may need or want to get out of the home office and work remotely, even if only for a few hours.

The public library is a good destination if you need a nice, quiet place to work. Libraries often make WiFi available to patrons. In fact, digital technologies are transforming public libraries. They’re now less about finding and reading books and more about providing Internet and electronic resources to a community, and as such libraries are becoming destinations for teleworkers. In Saratoga Springs, New York, the local Chamber of Commerce is working with the Saratoga Springs Public Library to develop initiatives to make the library more conducive to teleworking.

Related to a library is a bookstore. Some bookstores offer WiFi and even have cafés. (For those addicted to book buying, it’s not free of distractions, though.) Today, Barnes & Noble locations are also good places to linger and get work done.

Get Out!

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve offered some options for where to physically situate your home office. Now that you’ve identified where and how you will situate your home office, get out if it! In other words, the same technology that lets you work at home will let you work anywhere. Of course, you may ask, “Why would I want to?”

Home office life can be very isolating, especially if you are the only one home all day. Just getting out for errands can keep your thinking fresh and your outlook more positive. Working at home does not, and should not, mean solitary confinement.

Depending on where you live, weather can sometimes be a factor, especially in winter. So in the interest of mental health, it can be good to go out every now and then, all the while remaining productive. Even an hour or two at the gym, especially if you have a regular group of workout buddies, can do wonders for one’s sanity.

There may be other, more practical reasons for getting out of the home office. Maybe there is work being done on your home that is loud or distracting. Perhaps the power and/or Internet went out. Maybe another family member is hosting a birthday party or a scout meeting. And so on.

There are many options for those times when you need to get out for extended periods  but still get work done. The next several posts will look at these options.