Your Revolving Desk: 5 Hotspots for Working Remotely in Your City
BY ANNALIZA NIEVE
In this on-demand age where your coffee comes in countless combinations, it should be no surprise that your desk can, too. Meaning, you don’t have to squat at your corner café when you want a change of scenery from working from home or the office. Though almost every coffee shop serves up laptop-friendly tables, you can find caffeine-free spaces with just as much connectivity. So the question is, how do you take your Internet connection? We’ve got a menu you might want to peruse.
Working from a local bookstore offers just the right amount of ambiance for a productive session.
A Different Kind of Buzz
Some people like the background of “white noise” while working. For some reason, the hum of ambient noise can help people keep focused. So if you’re looking for that kind of buzz, try your local bookstore. Amidst the muzak and shopper mumbles, you’ll find cozy nooks where you can catch up on work or spot check your email. Barnes and Noble alone has more than 700 locations across the U.S. Need a break from working altogether? If you download the Barnes and Noble NOOK app or visit any store with your NOOK in hand, they even allow shoppers to read entire NOOK Books for free.
Shopping center food courts and atriums often have free WiFi and charging stations for electronics.
Check Out, Then Log In
Anyone with a smartphone can relate to the itch to check email, post social media, or trade texts while you’re out and about. But if you need to squeeze a work to-do list into your shopping list, head to a mall center or food court area. Many malls (as well as individual stores) have free WiFi throughout, along with designed relaxation spaces, like atriums, complete with plush armchairs and even kiosks for recharging electronics. All you usually need is an email address (which may open you up to receive advertising from mall stores). But hey, who doesn’t love sales alerts from their favorite shops, especially when they’re so close by?
Fast Food with Fastest WiFi
Where can you get the fastest WiFi on the run? Starbucks leads the pack, with their Google partnership putting the rest of the category to shame in terms of connection speed. But tests from WiFi watchdog orgs, like OpenSignal, rank McDonald’s, Subway, Arby’s, and Taco Bell as next top contenders for fastest download times. That means you can even live stream video while you nosh. Netflix binge on your lunch break, anyone?
From parks to public transit stations, many cities have their own free public WiFi.
In most major U.S. cities—and even international ones like London and Paris—it’s often possible to connect to a free citywide WiFi network outdoors. From parks and downtown centers to public museums and library courtyards, you can find your bench and your megabytes in union. According to the American Library Association, almost all U.S. libraries (98%) offer free public Internet access. And in New York City, with the largest underground mass transit system in the U.S., 100% of subway stations offer free WiFi. Whether city-run WiFi continues to spread remains to be seen, so enjoy it while you can. Government-owned broadband faces opposition from private Internet Service Providers, among other naysayers who object to the high operating costs that put taxpayers at risk.
Hop from Hotspot to Hotspot
Speaking of ISPs, have an Internet service provider at home? You may know major players like XFINITY, Verizon, and RCN also offer free WiFi hotspots scattered about cities for their customers. Members can enter their account details and log in from up to 150 feet of the hotspot. But with ubiquitous locations (XFINITY alone offers eight million hotspots in the U.S.), coverage is as easy as remembering your password.
When working off of free WiFi, download a VPN and use two-factor verification to keep your information secure.
With so many free WiFi options out there, the big question is, are they secure? With passcodes, work information, financial details, and other personal information stored on your smartphone and computer, how do you make sure hackers can’t snag more than the free broadband? Experts recommend downloading a VPN app and using two-factor verification. A virtual private network encrypts your data and you can find many free options. And recently, sites and apps like Gmail and Apple ID let users opt in for a two-step login. Do it! This protects you, so in the event that anyone does know or guesses your password, you’ll get notified on a second device to approve access.
Lastly, read those terms and conditions carefully. Failure to look over those T&Cs could cost you more than an email address if you’re not paying attention. Internet access can be key, but you don’t want to give up your first born (seriously!) just to get connected like these hasty hotspot users did.
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