Where to work from home in Philadelphia

When Sean Duffy “works from home”, he is not always in his Italian market. He is known to have set up shop all over the city: in the John Heinz Nature Preserve, the Navy Yard, Cherry Street Pier, several cafes between South Philadelphia and Fishtown, a convenience store/casual restaurant in West Philadelphia, and …

Ikea.

Specifically, the store on South Christopher Columbus Boulevard. Specifically, its cafeteria.

“I love the view,” said Duffy, an associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University in Camden, referring to the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Delaware River and the rusting hulk of the SS United States. “It’s a big space, so you don’t feel like people are breathing you in. There’s even free coffee if you have a membership card, which is also free.

The COVID-19 shutdown has forced people out of their offices and back into their homes. This was also true for those who “regularly worked from home”, but actually spent most of their working hours in cafes, cafes and libraries. Now, in the summer of 2022, some believe the worst is behind us while others warn that the worst is what we must prepare for. Businesses – and employees – are unsure which is the best way forward: all-desktop or all-virtual?

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A hybrid was the most popular answer to a survey of more than 110 downtown and university town businesses conducted by the Center City District in January. A quarter of responding companies remained entirely distant. The other three-quarters are using their offices again, but very few — 15% — report having staff on site five days a week.

Working from home has been a “huge lifestyle change” for many employees who haven’t had the opportunity before, said David J. Wilk, assistant professor at the University’s Fox School of Business. Temple. Wilk thinks there will always be a need for a central office: “If you want to progress in a company, you have to be visible,” he said. “Networking is a way to create positive energy between you and others and it’s so different when it’s on Zoom or in person. It’s hard to create the same chemistry when you’re on screen and when you are in person.”

If you like working indoors

South Philly Ikea

Claim a free membership and get free coffee and tea to sip while you work.

University City Science Center Quorum Lounge.

The 5,000 square foot lounge has comfortable seating that can be adjusted if you have a meeting there.

But he also thinks employees now have more power over when they show up in person. “There’s been a corporate shift in control and you, the employee, have to follow the rules of the employee-centric workplace of the future,” Wilk said. “It makes it very difficult for some companies to call everyone back to the office, because what are the employees saying? “If you force me to return to the office, I will find a job elsewhere.”

Wilk speaks from his own experience. He considers his iPad “the eighth great wonder of the world” because its existence — and his understanding family — allowed him to teach a two-hour class in a car traveling from Florida to Philadelphia. (It wasn’t the driver.)

“It came out in some of my student reviews: ‘I can’t believe he was traveling with his family and didn’t cancel classes and teach all the time,'” Wilk said. the variety of not going to the same place every day and being able to work hard and get things done, but not having a fixed location.”

In December 2020, the Hyatt chain, which includes the Bellevue, began offering its “Office for a Day” program which included 12 hours in a private room and other hotel amenities. The cost depended on room availability and the standard daily rate, but the chain advertised the package starting at $65. An unexpected group of consumers? Healthcare workers, who rented a space to relax after long shifts.

“While slow to catch on, we saw growing demand from mid-2021 when everyone was working from home and needed a change of pace and away from their usual routine, including other people in the house they share like their spouses and children,” said Brian Lang, General Manager of the Bellevue Hotel. “Those who took advantage of it found value in the offer and came back many times over.”

While the hotel is still offering “Office for a Day”, increasing hotel occupancy has limited its availability. But another office out of office still available? The Quorum Lounge on the first floor of the University City Science Center. The 5,000 square foot space is open to everyone, free, free wi-fi, no need to register in advance. It opened in 2011 as part of the organization’s mission to encourage innovation and invention.

If you’re cool with admission fees

Hyatt office for the day

You can choose to put on a fluffy bathrobe and sit by the pool or lounge in bed while waiting for the room service cart. Prices start at $65 and the program is offered based on room availability.

Philadelphia Museum of Art Members Lounge

Dispel the midday blues with a brisk climb up the steps to the Rocky, or look for inspiration in one of the galleries. Annual membership options include $25 student to $75 single adult.

It was designed “to create that kind of work environment in a coffee shop without having to force people to buy a cup of coffee or feel like they have to keep buying and drinking coffee all day. to justify having a seat for eight hours,” Kristen Fitch said. , the science center’s senior marketing manager, adding that there is a cafe on site.

“You can also hold a casual, informal meeting here if you don’t have a dedicated office space,” Fitch said. “There are different seating options, and it’s rare that there are no seats available.”

Before COVID, the show had around 10,000 annual users. The number dropped when the pandemic started, and at one point the salon was closed. Over the past year, the number of users has reached an almost pre-pandemic level, with fluctuations based on concerns of the latest virus variant. To address security concerns, the center has taken steps to receive accreditation from the Global Biohazard Advisory Boardan international agency that advises businesses on how to stay safe when they need a higher than normal level of cleaning and disinfection.

Still, some people fear sharing the confined air indoors with strangers. These people would benefit from Marion Leary’s experiences exploring the city’s large open public spaces – and smaller, but still open ones. A hired coffee editor before the pandemic, she became a wandering worker during the shutdown. Among his favorite places to work: Dilworth Plaza; Parc de la Fontaine Girard; Race Street Wharf; Cherry Street Pier; and “approximately 100 places on the Penn campus”, including locations near the Fisher Fine Arts and Van Pelt-Dietrich libraries and the James G. Kaskey Memorial Park BioPond.

“I love changing places because no matter how stuck or exhausted I get, I change places and my creativity starts flowing,” said Leary, director of innovation research at the Center for Resuscitation at the University of Pennsylvania. “I like to be outside but not near too many people. I bring my phone access point which works perfectly, but sometimes I don’t even need it.

If you prefer wide open spaces

Cira Green

University City’s elevated park atop a parking lot offers free Wi-Fi and multiple seating options.

Cherry Street Wharf

Already home to several artists working in studios made from converted shipping containers, the pier offers seating, food and free Wi-Fi. Pampered pooches are allowed if kept on a leash.

Spruce Street Harbor Park

Lie back in a hammock while working out in this warm-weather spot. Although it lacks outlets, the park has everything you need for a comfortable day’s work, including lawn games to promote blood circulation.

Working outdoors requires preparation, Leary said: Will there be electrical outlets available? Do you need to bring a chair/table? Can you easily buy food and drinks? Did you pack insect repellent, sunscreen, noise canceling headphones and sunglasses?

“You need to plan ahead if you want to have a productive experience while working outdoors,” Leary said.

Maybe not having to plan ahead is one of the reasons Duffy loves working at the Ikea cafeteria. (Which is OK with the American company of Ikea, according to a company spokesperson.) He joked that the store had “free beds to sleep in until someone wearing a vest yellow tells you to get up”, although he never had to be kicked out of a Hemnes bed or a Strandmon armchair and ottoman.

He did, however, run a few errands before and after work, picking up household items with unpronounceable names. Since he’s never alone in the cafeteria, he wonders how many other people have discovered this unlikely workspace.

“I once noticed that six people like me were on their laptops,” he said. “I actually thought, ‘I wish I could start a little club, the Exiles at Ikea.

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