Last September, I returned to full-time freelancing. Once the novelty of working in my home office wore off, I wanted to get out to be around people. Around that time, I came across Work+, a free iPhone app that helps identify alternative places to work, including coffee shops, cafes, and other Wi-Fi friendly places, like hotel lobbies.
The Work+ app also integrates with Foursquare, so while a lot of information might not be new for some people, I was able to learn about a few new places to work that opened when I was rocking my last office job.
Get started with Work+
To get started:
- Download the free Work+ app
- Tap Work+, and the opening screen will appear (Figure A)
The opening page for Work+.
Searching for an alternative place to work
After three years in a relatively social office, I was used to being around people, so the Work+ app gave me another view into where other full-time freelancers and remote workers hang out during the day.
You have the option to search via name, keyword, or the iPhone's mapping feature.
To search for your next working spot:
- Open Work+
- Tap Go, and the Explore screen will appear (Figure B) Figure B
- From the Explore screen, you have the following options under Need:
- Use the How long? slider to choose the duration for how long you want to work
- Select Yes/No for Wi-Fi
- Select Yes/No for Table
- Select Yes/No for Food
- Scroll down a bit further, and you'll see the following Have options:
- Select Yes/No for Laptop
- Select Yes/No for Large Group
- Next, choose your Beverage options, such as Coffee, Tea, and Alcohol
- Use the Noise Level slider to specify the level of background noise you are comfortable working in
- Under Transportation, select foot, bus, or car
- If necessary, choose amongst the Other options, including Outside, Artful Ambience, and Dog Friendly
- Tap Search to execute your search, and you can view the search results as a List or on a Map (Figure C) Figure C
- Tap on a workplace to bring up its address, phone number, and map of the surround area
- Tap on the stickpin for the workplace on the map to bring up directions to the address from your current location
The Work+ Explore screen.
List view of Work+ search results.
I definitely was surprised by the number of Work+ search returns in my local area (keep in mind I was in a windowless office on a government contract for three years). So, even if you think you know all the places to open up a laptop, Work+ might turn up some new options for you.
Document your work experience
One of the Work+ app's goals is to document workers' experiences at establishments with capsule reviews. Unfortunately, in my local area, the reviews were non-existent, but that didn't bother me much.
To learn more about your new work location options:
- Optionally, tap Select Category (it probably says Coffee Shop) in the top right corner to narrow down your choices to a category, such as Coffee Shop, Team Room Bar, Coworking Space, or Café
- Tap on a Search Result, and information such as the address, map location, phone number, and ratings (if any) will appear
- Tap Start Working, and a timer will come up -- this is the app's way of trying to catalog people's experience at the various spots
- Once you stop the timer, a Ratings screen will appear that lets you rate your experience at the location, and you have the option to rate your experience or tap Skip to return to the location screen (Figure D)
Rate your experience with the Work+ app locations.
Connect your Foursquare account with Work+
To connect Foursquare and Work+:
- Tap the Foursquare icon (top left corner of the opening screen), and Foursquare will open in mobile Safari
- Tap Login
- Enter in your Foursquare email address and password
- Tap Allow to connect Foursquare to Work+
Once you connect Foursquare and Work+, you have the option to check-in from your work location using Foursquare. Here's how:
- Tap Settings
- Slide Login to Yes
- Slide Check-in When Working to Yes
The developer promises that linking Work+ with Foursquare makes searches faster and more relevant.
Work+ your way out of your home office
Even though the Work+ app was completely devoid of ratings in my local area, it did clue me into some new worker-friendly locations with Wi-Fi that didn't exist the last time I was working at home full time. While your mileage may vary with the content and ratings, the Work+ app may just help you find a new comfortable and friendly spot to work.
What's your favorite app for locating Wi-Fi hotspots in your area? Please share your experience in the discussion thread below.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.