At the rate remote work is increasing, there will be almost a 90% increase in just 4 years. As we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic, remote work brings all sorts of new and creative professional environments.
We’ve been working in a hybrid-model, part WFH and part office, but decided to take a break from WeWork to explore different locations around the city each week to create our own Remote Work Tour de Chicago.
After comparing notes on the different locations, here is the ranking from most favorite to least favorite and why:
1. Capital One Café (100 S State St, Chicago, IL)
Although it’s crowded in the morning before 9am, there is plenty of space to spread out since there are two floors. With all that room, you are socially distanced, so you don’t have to wear a mask when seated and it turns into the perfect quiet workspace after 9am, but not so quiet that you can’t take a video or phone call. The only downside for this location is the outlet situation. There’s a high-top table that stretches along all the windows, which conveniently has outlets placed underneath it, however, if you want to sit at a booth, table, or couch, there are no outlets around them. All in all, this café has more pros than cons and we’ve come back here more than a few times to work.
2. Revival Food Hall (125 S Clark St, Chicago, IL)
This food hall is spacious, trendy, and modern. You can stay for a full work day, there’s an assortment of food to choose from for lunch, and you don’t have to wear a mask when seated. Outlets are found near almost all seating areas and there are many places to sit and work. The tables vary in size depending on where you sit, so you could have a large work space or small workspace. The only downsides are that it’s hard to have a video or phone call especially when it gets very busy and loud during the lunch rush, and you have to ask an employee for the WiFi password.
3. Marshall’s Landing (222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago, IL)
This place has the most sophisticated and cool atmosphere with amazing interior design. There are tons of places to sit and all seating areas have spacious tables to work on. You can definitely take a phone or video call. They have large accent chairs that you can sit in near the entrance that probably help with soundproofing and you don’t have to wear a mask when seated. The only downsides are that if you plan on staying for a full workday, you have to order food at some point because you’d be sitting at the restaurant tables, outlets are not near every table, and it gets loud during the lunch rush.
4. Roanoke Restaurant (135 W Madison St, Chicago, IL)
The area you can work from is actually on the second floor, which is the same space used for the Residence Inn continental breakfast and lunch service. The great thing about this restaurant is the size of the table you can work from. You can take video or phone calls, you don’t have to wear a mask when seated, and WiFi is consistent. The downsides are that it’s crowded during the breakfast and lunch service, outlets aren’t conveniently placed, and some of the space is designated for hotel lunch, so you may have to move to a different area halfway through the day.
5. Harold Washington Library (400 S State St, Chicago, IL)
We were pumped to explore the Harold Washington Library- it’s huge and an architectural beauty downtown. Turns out, the best thing about the library is its massive size, providing several floors with many desks for you to work from. Towards the back of the room on each floor, there are various nooks with about 6 desks per nook. All have outlets underneath so you can stay a full workday if you want. You have to wear a mask for the full day and the study rooms are not available currently due to COVID. The downsides are that you can’t really talk in the library so it’s not the best choice if you need to take a phone or video call and the WiFi isn’t consistent. They were very strict on the always-masked policy and the beauty of the outside of the building isn’t really translated inside.
6. Big Shoulders Café (858 N State St, Chicago, IL)
If you get here early, it’s easy to find a seat to work and enjoy your coffee. The café is quiet, has a cool atmosphere, you can take a phone or video call, and connecting to the WiFi is easy. The downsides are that the café is very small, outlets are inconveniently placed, you must wear a mask unless eating or drinking, and there isn’t a lot of table space to work.
7. Foxtrot Market (401 N Wells, Chicago, IL)
This place has is modern and has a trendy, upscale aesthetic. No matter where you sit, it’s easy to find an outlet and you don’t have to leave to get lunch, because food is available at your convenience all day. You also don’t have to wear a mask when seated. The downsides are that it’s not the best place to take a video or phone call because it’s crowded and a bit loud all day, you have to ask an employee for the WiFi password, the seating areas are closely spaced together, and the tables provided are a good size for one person to work only. And, maybe the biggest reason it was marked lowest is not necessarily its fault, BUT, my credit card was stolen right from our table. Thumbs down for that.
So, whether you are sick of WFH and wanting to venture out for the day, or looking for an off-site for your team, you are welcome! We’d love to know if you have any other favorite Chicago spots! What places should be on the list for the next Tour de Chicago?