Where to work from? Co-working vs Library
I knew I wouldn’t want to work from the house all the time. Originally I was thinking about working remotely at one of the co-working places in Brisbane, Australia. I didn’t want to pick one even before coming to Australia, so I waited till we get here. But eventually, as I waited and waited, I had nowhere to go on the first Monday. So eventually I ended up in a state library.
The state library seemed great at first sight. Plenty of seats, fast wifi, and air condition. Pretty much everything I thought was needed for remote working. However, there were some negatives, too. The opening hours were “normal”, from 9 am to 5 pm. But this would just imply that I am still going somewhere to work on a clock, without the flexibility I was seeking. I prefer working in the morning and even more so here in Brisbane, where there is so much light as early as 5 am.
Later that day I discovered the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) campus. It’s perfectly located right next to a river and botanical gardens (huge park). There is soooooo many great places for working remotely, that I was immediately in love with the place. The whole campus is covered with eduroam wifi, so I could log in and enjoy a reliable and fast connection right away.
As this was my first experience of working remotely for more than a week, I had to come up with some routine to use in Australia. I found out, that when I came to work without clear expectations I would procrastinate a lot. I would watch some videos on youtube, I would move to a different table, I would read Forbes Espresso daily and I would watch some more youtube videos.
On the other hand, when I had already a clear vision of what I have to do, it was much easier. So I build a habit to spend the last 5-15 minutes of the previous day to just write down tasks, I would do the next morning. I don’t need a full list of all items I will do the next day, but just a few to start working immediately.
I found it much easier the next day to simply wake up my laptop and bam I could start working right away.
Working remotely in a different time zone
I work for a US-based company. The time difference between North Carolina and Brisbane is 14 hours. So a significant difference … My manager couldn’t imagine how big of a time difference it will be and always was saying, that she will see when I am really there. Boy, she was shocked, when she realized that our working hours have no overlap at all.
One of the first things I did when I started to work remotely from Brisbane, was to apologize to all my US colleagues and cancel all my daily/weekly meetings. I’ve written an apology email to all of them, explaining that I won’t join meetings at 1 am. They all understood and we moved all our conversations on Slack, where the whole team could read it.
No distraction mode
Back in Czech Republic I was always working from a shared office. I was avoiding open space offices but even working in a smaller office for 5-7 people is too much in my opinion. Anything with more than 3 people is too much for efficient work, at least for someone like me. I need to get to the working zone (flow) as fast as possible and then I can stay there until I am distracted by something or someone else. When there are people working close to each other, many times someone just finds something “interesting” on the internet and wants to share it with the others. And jibber-jabber starts, which leads to a distraction. Everyone knows it. And when there are several occasions of this happening each day, then there are only a couple of rather short opportunity windows to actually work.
When I am working in my favorite spot at the campus, I can stay in the flow much longer. That’s why I decided to stay working from the library and not joining some of the many co-working hubs so far. I still might join, for the social aspect, but so far I don’t mind working alone.
Another benefit that I love is that I am able to work outside, where I can actually feel the sun, wind, and nature. Brisbane has the benefit of really nice weather all year round. This means they can count on it even when designing/building buildings. In Europe, the building is pretty much usable only from inside. However, in Australia, huge parts of the buildings are accessible even without entering them. Meaning I could happily work from the campus even when the university was completely closed during the Christmas period.
My favorite working spot is just between two buildings. It’s outdoors but with a “roof” above my head, so in a nice shade. There are two huge wooden tables, with electricity hubs and also the wifi router is close by. Of course, when the temperature is just too high I can go inside and enjoy the same conditions, but in an air-conditioned environment.
I think the amount of actual work I can deliver is 20-40% higher than working “normally” in the company office. All in all after a month of working remotely from Australia like this I must say I really like it. And not just because I can have my snacks like in the picture above:)