I was discussing with an entrepreneur today how much we like hotels as our virtual offices. Hotel lobbies often offer Wi-Fi, always have nice bathrooms, have comfortable furniture and relative peace and quiet. Great places to work, and good places to meet. Though be careful what you discuss, you have no idea who that person on the couch across from you is – they could be a competitor or an investor you may run into one day soon.
But don’t be a vampire. If you have friends or relatives who need a hotel, recommend the one where you occasionally hang out. Don’t abuse hotel’s generosity and try to repay it when you can. Patronize their restaurant, coffee shop, and even their gift shop, if you need the latest Wall Street Journal on paper.
The same goes for other places I’ve had lots of meetings at, including Starbucks and Panera. Frankly I’m not fond of the coffee at Starbucks or the food at Panera, but I always make sure to buy something when I’m borrowing their space.
Panera has risen to the top of my list given their free Wi-Fi and suburban parking lots. Though their locked up bathrooms requiring codes or passkeys are a hassle compared to hotels.
As an entrepreneur, particularly if you are flying solo, you need to stretch the dollar. Or as the old saying goes, squeeze the nickel so hard the buffalo grunts.
Obviously you can work out of your house, but if both you and your significant other are working at home then you may end up seeing more of each other than is comfortable. After all, isn’t it absence that makes the heart grow fonder?
And of course, if you are traveling, hotel lobbies and coffee shops can be a refreshing alternative to working in your hotel room.
And as a former librarian, I’d be remiss not to mention your local public library as a great place to work. Some even have conference rooms where you can meet. Virtually all of them have public access computers. But I have to admit, they do come up short in the food and refreshment department. My favorite library is the Cambridge Public Library, built at a cost of something like $93 million and designed by one of my favorite architects, William Rawn Associates. It even has its own underground parking garage.
Where’s your favorite virtual office?