Working remotely either on your own or for another company offers nice benefits such as flexible schedules and no commute time. I have worked remotely for the past two years and believe me, there is a lot to love about it.
In the course of working remotely one thing is clear, you will have to get out of your home office at some point. The isolation will cause you to go crazy. I love going out to coffee shops, but it is hard to find the perfect balance of good coffee, good food, good internet, and good atmosphere.
You want good coffee for obvious reasons, remote workers drink the stuff by the gallon. Once you are settled in to a spot you do not always want to leave for lunch, so good food becomes necessary. Most remote workers rely on an internet connection to get their job done. Finally it is hard to work without a good work atmosphere around you. This is the criteria I use in selecting a place to work, and here are some of my favorites.
Mugs Cafe – North Little Rock
Mugs is the only place I have found that satisfies all of my remote working needs. I try new places constantly and always find myself coming back to Mugs. Bonus points: the owners and staff are fantastic, go here enough and they start to feel more like co-workers and less like coffee house employees.
Food and Drink: Coffee is always fantastic, while they do not roast themselves like some others they do have a solid roasting source. Food is good enough that I will sometimes make a trip here just for lunch even when I am not working.
Work Environment: Internet is solid, usually running at 50mbps down. I work here more than any other place and I have never had a dropped connection. Atmosphere is excellent as well. Some days you want to have people to talk with and break up your day, for those days you can sit in the front of the shop. Other days you just want to go heads down and get work down, walking past the counter into the back is great for those times. It really is the best of both worlds
Mylo Coffee Co. – Hillcrest
Mylo will always hold a special place in my coffee shop rotation because of the connection back with the local food community. Mylo is typically my coffee shop for meeting with people and doing some very light work.
Food and Drink: All coffee is roasted on site and the freshness makes a difference, especially in their pour over coffee. That said Mylo was new to roasting when opening and I heard a few complaints through the grapevine about taste issues. Seems like any roasting issues are worked out and every cup I have lately is solid. Mylo has the best pastries in the city with no exception, that said they are incredibly hard to get and typically sold out of the best by mid-morning. Lunch is a little hit or miss to me anyway. Food is always quality and always fresh, but is geared toward a very specific crowd. Good thing here is that lunch gives you an opportunity to get up, leave the crowd, stretch, and walk over to Hillcrest Artisan Meats.
Work Environment: Unfortunately with all the quality food and drink, the work environment at Mylo is the one thing that keeps me from working here frequently. The wifi is slow and very unstable, frequently dropping when crowded. Additionally they change the wifi password frequently which leads to an un-needed dive into my wifi settings to forget the network then re-enter the password. The place is always packed, making it hard to find a good seat with plugin access, not to mention the noise level. The shop looks incredible and the open kitchen adds to the appeal, as well as the overall noise. It is easily the loudest work environment on this list. This is why I said earlier it becomes my place to have a casual work meeting with someone over coffee or have a very light work day.
Food: 5 (breakfast) / 3 (lunch)
Guillermos – Rodney Parham
A lot has changed at Guillermos since founder Hans Oliver sold the business. The coffee quality took a noticeable dip without Hans’ hand on the in-house roaster. Fortunately seems like things are on the up-swing once again.
Food and Drink: With Hans running the business this easily became the absolute best coffee in town. Thankfully the new owners seem to again return this shop to the best roaster in the business. The coffee is my favorite in town with 10-15 roast to choose at any given time. The beans here are so good it is where I buy coffee for my own personal use. Food is middle of the road. They do have lunch and breakfast options that are good enough to not want to get out and eat elsewhere. It helps a lot that Chili’s is located next door, any food looks good compared to that.
Work Environment: With Mugs and Mylo I am almost assured to run into someone I know to chat with, when I want to sit alone in a corner and get work done I go to Guillermos. A lot of this is the location, it becomes a stop in and go for most customers on their way to work rather than a destination. It is always quiet. Wifi is decent, good enough to hold my daily video conference and maintain a stable connection.
Starbucks (usually midtown or the heights)
Part of me hates myself for even writing this, but sometimes you just need something wet to drink and a blazing internet connection. Starbucks is that place. As I will describe in a second, the internet speed here is out of this world and rock solid. So if you are, say a web developer who is going through a huge content migration, this is your place.
Food and Drink: Coffee is wet and caffeinated, food is heated in a microwave. Starbucks is never going to wow you with their coffee quality, if it does you need to get out more. Food is awful, in almost all instances reheated. Seriously just work out of either the midtown or heights location and walk to get food.
Work Environment: Starbucks made a shift several years ago to turn tables faster in their stores. Part of that was redoing the furniture to be less comfortable for long sessions. As a company they are moving back toward being a comfortable, long stay setting. This has not caught up with their furniture. Most locations are completely open and completely noisy. Bring headphones.
For internet speed though there is nothing quite like Starbucks. They formed a partnership with Google last year to provide internet access. It is now free and open. Speed is advertised at 100 mbps in most locations, and typically you can reach very close to those speeds. In addition it has very high upload speeds, which is important for most remote workers needing to move files.
Now we want to hear from you. Do you ever work remote? Have a favorite coffee shop other than one mentioned? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook.