As a team, we spend half our lives working out of cafes as we go between interviews, events and so on. As everything we publish is online, it is essential for us to find reliable spots to upload the latest content as going back and forth to the office just doesn’t make sense. We all have our own list of places we head to, where the WiFi is good and charge points are available but there has been no easy or centralised way to share this information with others.

You can spend a surprising amount of time trying to find suitable locations, especially if you are in a new area, so when someone introduced me to Workfrom its potential was clear.

Workfrom has been in operation for a number of years but it is relatively new to Ireland. To find out more about the service and to highlight how it can help remote workers here we spoke with Workfrom CMO Kristi DePaul.

Can you explain to our readers what Workfrom is?

We created a powerful search engine for finding and sharing the world’s best remote work locations, and have built an online community for the people who work in them. With a free account, users can access information on venues in over 2500 cities.

For remote workers, digital nomads and people who’ve escaped the office, Workfrom makes it easy to find spaces to get work done and stay connected with others working the same way.

When did you launch?

Our founders, Darren and Jewel, began working together in early 2014, and Workfrom was officially launched on June 4, 2014. (We celebrate this date as the company’s birthday.)

How many different cities are you operating in?

We have users in 3,083 cities (and counting) across six continents, who have scouted and clocked into venues across the globe. (Yes, we’ve yet to conquer Antarctica…but when we do, we’ll let you know!)

How many active users have you?

We have over 30,000 users who have set up free accounts, and roughly a quarter million who have used our platform.

Can you tell us about the people behind Workfrom?

– Absolutely. Our co-founders Darren Buckner and Jewel Mlnarik are both based out of Portland, Oregon. Darren’s background is in software development; he serves as our CEO, leading strategic partnerships and our product roadmap, among the many other hats that he wears. Jewel is a systems architect who leads Workfrom’s engineering and operations efforts, ensuring that our tech and customer relations run smoothly.

– Brooke Hurford serves as our resident UI expert and product designer; she’s also a skilled project manager and developer (can a startup ever have too many of those?) Brooke is enjoying the digital nomad life right now, splitting her time between Colombia and Costa Rica.

– As CMO, Kristi DePaul heads up our global marketing and communications efforts, and is based out of the ‘Startup Nation’ in Tel Aviv, Israel–although she travels frequently to Europe, Asia and the United States. (She’s the reason the Pacific Coast folks have to get up so early to chat.)

– Julian Stewart, our content strategist and recent California transplant, is probably basking in the sun and palms of LA at this moment. When he isn’t, he’s brainstorming and editing great content for Workfrom’s Untethered blog.

What information do you provide users about each location?

Workfrom users get valuable information such as venue names and addresses, community-supplied images of these spaces, WiFi speeds, access to power outlets, details on venue noise levels, as well as the types of seating available at coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and coworking spaces, among other spaces. (Our speed test is a great way to see if you want to stick around before buying a coffee/pastry, or if you’d have a better chance of getting work done elsewhere.) Users can also search for dog-friendly and kid-friendly spaces—we’ve taken into account folks from all walks of life when building this.

Here’s a screenshot showing public places in what might be the most popular digital nomad destination right now: Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Is there a way for venue owners to register and add their details?  

Yes. Owners can claim an existing space in our system, or add their space to create a verified listing. For public and commercial spaces, owner verification lets our community know that they are welcome in a given space, leading to greater awareness and loyal customers.

For coworking or dedicated office spaces, verification gives owners peace of mind knowing they can update their public listing at anytime, regardless of who initially scouted it. As a community-sourced directory, we want to ensure business owners have access to protecting their identity and sharing their voice.

If a venue is located in a city with hundreds of listings, promoting a location gives them the added benefit of standing out—building their brand, increasing awareness, and driving more qualified customers to their spaces.

How do you ensure details provided by users are reasonably accurate?

This is a great question, and it’s what sets us aside from the Yelps or Foursquares of the world. Aside from venue owners being able to verify listings, the fact that our information is community-sourced means that anyone—even someone who isn’t the original scout—can suggest edits. (Think editing Wikipedia-style.) We make it easy for users to find locations on a map, ensuring that location pins can be dragged to the most accurate spot. Because our users are contributing for the greater good, we’ve found inaccuracies to be few and far between. Despite the fact that we’re a small team, we monitor and approve users’ changes, but rely heavily upon the community to provide initial info—and have removed hurdles to doing so quickly and accurately.

Darren, our CEO, has written more about catch-all versus curation, and why the latter is our approach.

In general, the advantages for venue owners are clear but what has been their feedback about being listed?

Most owners we hear from are pleased to be included among our listings; they see the value in the visibility and awareness we provide (in a way, it’s really free advertising for them) whether their patrons are mostly locals or folks who are visiting from out-of-town. Many are surprised that a tool like ours exists—and often, they’ll claim their listings for a small fee, enabling them to edit their listing, adding professional photos, etc., which helps them to attract more foot traffic. On the whole, we’ve found that Workfrommers are a conscientious bunch who observe emerging ‘remote work etiquette’ standards; that is, they don’t camp out with laptops all day if it isn’t welcomed by venue owners, and they make purchases when they’re working.

Are there incentives for users to add venues?

We’re considering a few fun ideas here in terms of location-based digital badges; for now, our top scouts are showcased on our community leaderboard. They get bragging rights and recognition from us on social media, as they’re helping us to build the future of work. (We’d love to add some new Irish friends in the mix here.)

Some have even signed up to be Workfrom ambassadors, hosting meetups and encouraging scouting in networks throughout their own cities.

How can people use the service?

People can search for scouted locations near them, or in a city of their choosing, using our app or our desktop version. They need to sign up for a free account to get all the data we offer. The free account gives them a Workfrom public profile, which enables them to make contributions of their own by scouting and favoriting locations, and by clocking-in at the places they visit and work from. We rely on the community to scout and recommend new spaces.

Are there Apps available?

Yes! We released our app in October 2016, to much fanfare. (Travel+Leisure, the Boston Globe and others covered the release, and our app was featured on the App Store.)  It’s available on both iTunes and Google Play. You can access them here.

What is Workfrom Pro?

We know from talking with Workfrommers around the world that a sense of isolation is a major downside of remote work; because of this, we created a community so that no remote worker needs to ever feel that they’re alone.

Outside of our social channels, Workfrom Pro is our paid membership option, which is currently available in both monthly and annual format. Our Pro members join our private Slack chat, which has over 90 channels covering niche interests in remote work, all kinds of hobbies, and locations, so our members can choose to meet up and get to know one another in real life. We have nearly 1700 active members in Slack. They also get access to exclusive member perks from companies like FlexJobs, Typeform, Treehouse and others that we negotiate on their behalf. We charge a small fee ($5/mo or $50/year) for this, which helps us to offset costs and keep Workfrom going.

What’s next for Workfrom?

We have some exciting stuff up our sleeves. We’re in the process of seeking seed stage funding in order to grow our team and enhance our product, and we’re exploring the creation of an integrated platform that would be extremely helpful for remote teams. (Many distributed employees are already using our service individually, so this is a natural dovetailing for us.) We’re looking forward to sharing more updates with Irish Tech News as they arise!

For more information on Workfrom, and to start adding locations in Ireland, visit https://workfrom.co/

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