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Half-caffs and hotspots: How to work productively from cafes and public spaces

Tony Bradley | Oct. 24, 2013
Whether you're just getting out of the office or the sidewalk cafe is your office, working in a public space has some special challenges. These tips will help you stay safe and productive.

4. Bring a headset
Working in a café means contending with the din of multiple conversations, hissing espresso machines, and baristas announcing triple no-foam lattes. All that ambient noise will muddy your phone calls and video chats. To ensure clear communications, bring a noise-canceling headset like the Plantronics Rig.

Even if you're just planning to put your head down and power through some documents, you may benefit from using ear buds or headphones either to chill to some music while you work or to dampen surrounding sound.

Finally, be considerate of other patrons. They don't want to hear you drone on about quarterly reports, so if you know you have a call on which you'll be presenting or talking a lot, work from home instead.

5. Stay secure
It's easy to lose touch with your environment when you're focusing intently on a task, but remember to keep a close eye on your briefcase, purse, and other belongings. The retailer is not responsible for your stuff and has no liability if it gets stolen.

If you have to use the restroom, either ask someone to keep an eye on your stuff for you, or pack it all up and set up shop again when you return. The pitfalls of those two options are obvious, so the best solution may be a laptop lock like the Targus Defcon CL to secure your hardware to the table.

Even if your laptop is secure, don't forget to take things like your wallet and car keys with you when you leave your seat.

Another aspect of physical security involves making sure that others can't see your display, especially if you're typing sensitive information such as a password or a credit-card number. You can invest in privacy screen film that minimizes the display's range of functional viewing angles, so people can't peek at it from the next table. You should also be aware of people behind you who may be looking over your shoulder.

As for digital security, when you're connecting to the public Wi-Fi network, make sure that you're connecting to the right one. Criminals sometimes set up rogue open wireless networks with familiar-looking SSID names to dupe users into connecting to them—making it that much easier for the attacker to monitor and intercept all traffic.

Even if you're connected to the correct wireless network, be careful what you do online. Most public Wi-Fi networks are not secured, so anyone within range can capture the traffic. Even on a Wi-Fi network that requires a password, your activity may be exposed to other computers connected to that network. Think twice (or three or four times) before logging in to sensitive sites when you're using a public Wi-Fi network. You should connect to business resources via VPN, and make sure that other sites you visit use secure, HTTPS connections.


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