Working remotely from a restaurant and/or bar can be a great way to get away from the house and still be productive. More and more restaurants are becoming remote work-friendly. I would argue that more often that not a restaurant will have wifi available nowadays.
Even with how work-friendly restaurants and bars have become in recent years, they still have some significant disadvantages to them.
Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want a drink every now and then during work? Whether you’re a WFH employee just getting a change of scenery, or a full-time digital nomad, working with a mouse in one hand and a beer in the other is a pretty nice feeling at the end of a long day.
Take it easy though, you don’t want to be too tipsy to work, or end up with a huge bill at the end of your session. Typically if I work from a bar I’ll make it my last stop of the day (I might do a coffee shop or library in the morning before migrating) for this exact reason.
Unlike coffee shops, libraries, or coworking spaces, it’s really easy to find a restaurant or bar to work at if you’re so inclined. Finding a good one that fits your needs might be a little tougher, but at least you’ll have a big pool or potential work places to try out.
Plenty of Food
You’re going to have to eat at some point if you’re working remotely, so working from a restaurant allows you to kill two birds with one stone. You’ll want to be careful, as this can get expensive quickly if you aren’t careful.
I have a running list of restaurants and bars that are good working environments that also have great happy hour specials. This helps out a ton. Working from those locations allow me to stay longer, but not break the bank when I order food.
Your Time May Be Limited
Please don’t be that person that goes to a sit-down restaurant and has someone wait on you. Assuming you’re putting in 2+ hours, that’s just not cool. If that’s you’re only option, then after about an hour you’ll probably start to get some weird and unappreciative looks (this depends heavily on the country you’re in).
My suggestion would be to sit at the bar area if they have one, or don’t go to a sit-down restaurant at all. The exception to this is if you’re only planning on staying an hour or so. And it should go without saying: order and tip well.
Often Not Open Mornings
I’m a big morning person. I try and be working by 7am if possible, and work until 1-2pm. As you know, there are very few restaurants open this early. Breakfast ones, sure, but the pool is substantially limited.
Typically, you aren’t going to find non-breakfast restaurants open until 10:30am at the earliest. This is why I often start at a coffee shop, and then I might migrate to a restaurant once they’re all fully open.
Plugs Are Hit or Miss
This is especially an issue if you are going to a spot that you haven’t been to before. There’s nothing worse than getting into a a groove with work and then realizing there’s no plugs near you. Or worse, in the whole place!
Generally there’s at least some wall outlets, but they can also be hard to come by if they don’t have many or the place you’re at is crowded.
For bars and pubs, plugs can often be found under the bar overhang itself. This is especially true in newer bars.
For restaurants, your best bet is on the perimeter tables near a wall. Especially near a beam or server station. In recent years I’ve seen restaurants bring in larger community tables that have cords running through them to run power to outlets on the top of the tables themselves.
Lots of Distractions
As if the booze wasn’t enough, you’re also going to have to contend with lots of people, TVs, and maybe even a wobbly table. Normally I just put on headphones to block all this out, but that’s a little weird in a restaurant, depending on the environment.
Be prepared for this. I would even recommend being able to work on something a little more “mindless” in case you can’t wear headphones. Something like a data entry task, spreadsheet work, or maybe replying to easy emails.
WiFi Can Sometimes Be an Issue
Like I mentioned in the introduction, most restaurants have wifi now. However, there are still some things to watch out for. Chief among them is whether or not the connection is secure. Many of my remote work friends have to use their hotspot exclusively, or make sure they are on a secure connection because of the nature of their work. You definitely don’t want sensitive work information floating out into the ether.
Another factor to consider is the speed of the connection. Restaurants and bars won’t typically have as good of speed as a coffee shop or coworking space, but generally it’s more than enough to get work done depending on what you’re doing. I’m writing this from a coffee shop at the moment, and it has great speed as you can see below:
Personally, I’m a big fan of working from bars and restaurants. However, I find that limiting my time there to 1-3 hours is a must. Any longer and more than likely you’re going to run up a big bill. Either from cocktails or multiple meals that you’re eating.
Let me know if you have any other experiences while working from bars or restaurants!