Working from home as a freelance writer definitely has its advantages – short commute, minimal dress code, cat. But, like all work-from-home professionals, varying the scenery from time to time is essential. Lounging around in PJs, languidly tapping in the latest chapter on The Greatest Novel of All Time, loses its appeal to even the most hardcore hermit. Let’s face it – even the best cat in the world has limited conversational skills.
If you find that you’re losing the power of speech or intelligent conversation, maybe it’s time to consider working away from home now and then … and this is why wifi in cafes was invented.
Depending on what tasks you want to accomplish, packing up the laptop and relocating to the following local establishments for a working lunch might be just the solution. But first, let’s go over some essential etiquette for dining and typing.
Remember, cafes and coffee shops are not your home office. They are businesses that serve refreshments and have tables. Therefore, do not clutter up more than one table with your laptop, papers, pens and post-it note collection, especially during their busy times. Try to dine/work off-peak.
It really isn’t good form to ask for the largest coffee and then make it last until tepid for an entire 20-page manuscript marathon. Buy the coffee; buy the food; rinse and repeat. Buy more if you find yourself working for longer than the average stay. And move on if you hit peak times – cafes make their income from tables ordering food, not typing the next War and Peace or an episode of Walking Dead. Support your local community and it will support you – maybe with some writing gigs.
In Search of Wifi and Food in Port Moody
So with these tips in mind, here are some of my favourite local hang outs.
Number one on my list is, of course, Gallaghers in Newport Village. Home to delicious lunchtime menu items such as the tarragon chicken wrap, nourishing soups and one of the most decadent lemon bars I’ve tasted in a long time (tip: dust off the icing sugar between bites or your keys will stick). The wifi is strong and reliable – ask for the day’s password as you complete your order at the till. Be warned, it’s a small establishment so please make sure you’re not hogging the space at peak times. Background noise is just conversational hum. Another thing to note is that power outlets are limited so charge up before you dine.
Close by and better equipped with power sources, is the Heritage Mountain Starbucks (330-221 Ioco Road) opposite Pioneer Park. Choose from your regular skinny shots or full-fat cream and sprinkles, then settle down for a typing session at the long bench table. Logging in is relatively straightforward and no password is required. Background noise varies – if you can tune it out or plug in earbuds you should be okay working here. Beware of random interviews in progress between unlikely couples (is it just me who notices that Starbucks stands in as a job interview location for local businesses?), though eavesdropping might just provide the plot for your latest Hollywood mega-pitch.
Another suggestion in the neighbourhood is the Port Moody Library. OK – no lunch but it does have awesome wifi, a full reference library at your fingertips and quietness. Shhh! Power outlets are reasonably plentiful and the desks are ideal for pounding out that novel on your laptop. If you want to keep typing but also stop your tummy rumbling, why not bring a packed lunch to eat in the Galleria or grab something to go from the IGA across the road? When the weather’s good, you can even sit outside and still keep a connection.
A recent addition to my work-from-home working lunch list is The Burrard Public House. This is a real sit-down full lunch treat. The conservatory area to the rear of this stylishly renovated pub has been busy each lunchtime I’ve dined here, but the lounge area just inside the main front door is usually quiet with few diners. Wifi has been steady and reliable; the service is always friendly, prompt and efficient; the food is awesome. Think of it as a reward for getting to the end of another self-employed month without breaking the bank. Another incentive is the frequent diner card, where every ten lunches punched on your card gets you a free one.
Now there’s an incentive for getting out for a guilt-free lunch.