60 unconventional workplaces The Mobile Office

Katrin Gygax
Today’s office looks like this: blending work with travel

A freelance travel writer and translator for most of her adult life, Katrin Gygax has always sought out spots to work that took her out of her home office. For inspiration, for concentration, even just for a breath of fresh air. 
Much has been discussed in recent years about the trend towards companies whose employees have mobile workstations, who hire freelancers to work on the road as they travel from one client to the next. But what if you are that traveling employee, that freelancer looking for different scenery every now and then?
This is where Katrin Gygax comes in. She is the author of “Today’s Office Looks Like This”, a guide to 60 non-traditional offices – some mobile, some stationary – throughout Switzerland. All places she works at regularly. With tips on what to take with you and what to do in between working: where to try the pizokel; where there are millions of francs of art right downstairs; where to snooze under a tree on your coffee break; and where to get off the train for a quick round of golf. Some entries you can use as ideas for your next working vacation. Others are outdoors, in libraries or in shared co-working spaces. Many are in hotels or cafés. Katrin Gygax presents her six favorite destinations for Victorinox.
Office No. 4: Allgemeine Lesegesellschaft Basel This 19th century library and reading room is like Hogwarts for grown-ups. In neo-gothic style with parquet floors, leather armchairs and traditional wooden footrests, it has tall timber stacks filled with ancient, leather-bound volumes. The pre-1999 inventory is still organized using an honest-to-god card catalogue with typed and handwritten entries. Sturdy wooden working desks are set at windows looking out over a cobblestone square and the Rhine. An oriel window topped with stained glass offers a view of the Romanesque/Gothic Basler Münster next door.
Office No. 12: Albergo Albrici, Poschiavo A kind of side door to Switzerland, Poschiavo lies on its very southeastern edge. The building that houses the Albrici hotel was once owned by the Baron de Bassus, a patron of the arts whose visitors included intellectuals like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The house’s fascinating interior reflects its times, especially the Sibylline Room – a muse in itself for lovers of the overly gilded Baroque era. If you are planning to go hiking in the Alps but still have to finish writing that paper on Voltaire and the birth of science fiction, the Albergo Albrici will provide the necessary inspiration.
Office No. 18: Brig to Chur, Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn The hardy little trains that run along the Glacier Express route date back to the 1970s, which means seats are wide and comfortable, and windows can be opened – perfect if you want to take pictures or just hang out the window to gawp at the mountains. This route is perfect if you have a lot of reading to do. The concentration level is very high, especially in 1st Class. But writing on a laptop can be difficult (unless your body comes with a large, sturdy lap): there are no sockets, no tables, certainly no WiFi and sometimes no mobile phone signal.
Office No. 20: Büro Lokal Wil More than just an office, this co-working space gets you access to Switzerland’s fast-growing VillageOffice network and its members have a collaborative spirit that will help you aim your project in the right direction. There are 20 stand-up or sit-down desks – great for keeping your joints from freezing up – a shared table for working with others, and lockers if you want to leave your things safely in the office. Other advantages stem from the space’s former life as an apartment: take a bath in the bathroom’s tub; do your laundry downstairs in the cellar and – a premium draw in Switzerland – deposit your car in one of the parking spaces.
Office No. 29: Gstaad Palace Don’t feel unsure about whether you’ll get into this five-star lobby: the staff happily welcome non-guests to have a drink and hang out. Which is great, because the Palace has that perfect living room vibe that makes it really easy to work in. If you still feel funny, remember the best way to gain access to any luxury hotel is to dress nicely – clean and slightly stylish is enough to do the trick, you don’t need to wear your tiara. Or simply act like you belong: cultivating the right air of entitlement works too. Just ask one of the many celebrities who will inevitably saunter through with their entourage.
Office No. 47: Lido Patriziale Ascona A cool mix – literally and figuratively – of lakeside lounge and classic park with a sandy beach, this is a whole-day destination. Pick a table or spread your blanket out on the lawn in the shade of a centuries-old tree. Choose your own budget: thanks to the low admission and your own lunch, a day here costs less than a Happy Meal and it will be better for you. If money is no object, just bring your laptop and charger and buy the rest. Bathing suit, towel, sunscreen from the lido shop; food from the restaurants. Rent a pedalo, wakeboard, lounge chair, umbrella or your own changing cubicle. There is beach volleyball, ping-pong, exercise classes and a pier with diving towers. There are also lifeguards, should any of these get you into trouble.

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