Working Remotely: Pros and Cons of Public Spaces

September 29, 2023

Seeking a change of pace? Understand the risks, disadvantages and advantages of working remotely from a public space.

Working Remotely: Pros and Cons of Public Spaces

The freedom of working remotely from home has taken the corporate world by storm. But while the options of working from home or the office seem like it should be enough, there are many professionals who like a change of pace or are on the go. From working in a coffee shop to an airport to a conference hotel, professionals are finding public spaces with accessible Wi-Fi for a change of scenery in their workday.

Professionals may choose to work elsewhere to create healthy boundaries between work and home life and increase their daily enjoyment. However, a poorly planned remote work excursion can also increase cyber risk and reduce focus.

Cyber risks

When using public Wi-Fi, your network connection is open to anyone who may be on that same network. This means that any data you transmit could be intercepted or stolen by malicious actors.

Although some organizations may allow the use of public Wi-Fi, it is better to never use an open Wi-Fi connection. You should only connect to a private, password-protected Wi-Fi that is approved by your organization.  

Some extra steps you can take to ensure less cyber risks in a public space are:

  • Ensure that your devices have strong passwords and are up to date with the latest security patches
  • Use a secure mobile hotspot option for iPhones or Androids
  • Utilize your organization’s Virtual Private Network (VPN), this will protect users by encrypting their data and masking IP addresses
  • Position yourself to make it difficult for someone to look over your shoulder/invest in a screen protector
  • Never rely on strangers to monitor your belongings, such as while you order a beverage or use the restroom

While cyber risks should be at the top of your priority list when working elsewhere, there are still other factors to consider:

Disadvantages to public spaces

Although the buzz of a coffee shop or restaurant may be a welcome change from the typical work from home environment, working in public spaces has its disadvantages.

Wi-Fi can be unreliable

Working in public spaces increases reliance on Wi-Fi and can drastically reduce productivity due to slow speeds or complete lack of connectivity. Working in public spaces also puts your devices and data at risk for cybercrime.

Noise and distractions

Public spaces are generally noisier than a home or office environment. This can be both a distraction from work and reduce the ability to effectively communicate with colleagues. Phone and video calls are typically discouraged in public spaces due to noise and privacy concerns.

Seating isn’t guaranteed

Unlike at home or in an office environment, there is no designated seating or a personalized workspace. When working in a public space, seating is on a first come first served basis. That also goes along with outlets that will be needed to charge your devices. 

Advantages of working in public spaces

Some professionals find that working in a public atmosphere reduces their stress and improves productivity, even with all the background noise.

Changing the work environment can stimulate creativity and help focus. Depending on the situation (e.g., you frequently travel for work, 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 the best option for finding a quiet, comfortable setting.

With proper planning, professionals can avoid the potential disadvantages of working in a public space:

Avoid peak hours

Plan to work during off-peak hours to increase the likelihood of finding a seat and access to power outlets. This will allow for productive work with minimal noise and distractions and potentially extend Wi-Fi connection and device battery life.

Bring necessary equipment

When heading out of the office or home office for the day, you should bring all necessary items. This allows you to be prepared for any public space setup without having to turn around for what you need. That includes adapters, chargers, noise-canceling headphones and a hot spot for your devices.

Set daily goals before leaving the house

It’s important to set priorities and objectives before working in a public space. Identifying what you want to accomplish and scheduling breaks will help increase productivity and stay on track.

Working from public spaces can be a great advantage for remote workers. It brings a breath of fresh air to the workday and helps establish a work-life balance. However, it is important to prepare properly to avoid any decrease in productivity or increase in cyber risks.

Whether you choose to work in a coffee shop for personal preference or out of necessity, it is crucial to take the necessary precautions to ensure a successful and secure work session.

About The Author

Margaret Jonte

Margaret Jonte
Email As an IT Specialist, Margaret has over 12 years of experience in IT support. Margaret provides support for The Miller Group in ensuring technology is relevant, reliable and secured. She helps employees remain vigilant and informed about cybersecurity. Margaret specializes in project management, user IT support, software deployment and user advocacy.

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