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For all the focus on mobile working in recent years, there’s a fundamental reality that people are creatures of habit, and they tend to find and continue using locations that they’re comfortable with, even if they’re not a designated “office” as such.

From coffee shops to co-working spaces, from museum foyers to member’s clubs, these places form the alternative office network for innovative people who genuinely work in the flow – but want somewhere familiar to get things done.

In the first of a series of posts looking at these places and the people who choose them, we spoke to Neil Perkin of Only Dead Fish, a well-read blog and digital media consultancy. He’s been a consultant for several years now, after an award-winning career in consumer publishing.

When Neil is in London, he often chooses to work from the Royal Festival Hall in the South Bank Centre, an arts centre on the south bank of the Thames. While the whole building offers pockets of seating and free WiFi, Neil has become a South Bank Centre member, giving him access to the 6th floor members bar, which has stunning views over the river and the city beyond. For £45 ($68) a year, you don’t get many offices with that quality of view…

We asked Neil, how do you design your days as a consultant? Do you have a planning ritual or routine?

The key for me is around getting the right balance between structure and agility. As a consultant, I’m usually running a number of projects concurrently so I find that whilst you need to lay down some fixed times for client sessions, meetings and scheduled work, you also need to build in time for flexibility, and to be more adaptive to short-term needs.

I also like to deliberately build in more personal time if I can for reading, blogging and meeting interesting people in the industry who I come into contact with – it’s so easy to sacrifice this but it’s hugely valuable in keeping my thinking fresh, keeping me learning, and continually expanding the network of people I know.

How does the Royal Festival Hall fit into that?

I use a variety of co-working spaces but I use the Royal Festival Hall members’ area often because it’s a good space, and it’s convenient. Apart from having one of the best views in London from the 6th floor, it’s close to Waterloo train station which is where I come into London, and also walk-able to Covent Garden and Soho. Outside of co-working spaces, I’m usually working at a client’s place so for me it’s all about flexibility.

How does that space help your work, and help you work flexibly?

I like the fact that I’m working in quite a buzzy environment, with a wide variety of different people, all working in different sectors doing different things. Being close to Waterloo and the centre of town means I can drop by in between, or on the way from or to meetings, and it’s a place where I can have a coffee, access good WiFi, and get some work done without interruption.

Are there any other regular haunts you use?

Convenience and environment are key to a good co-working space so I use a few other spaces around London as well (such as Hub Culture), depending on where I am at the time. There seems to be more springing up all the time, but because these spaces tend to be used by early stage businesses and consultants like me, they are always interesting and quite energising places to be and work.

A big thank-you to Neil Perkin for his time. Do you have a favourite place to work of your own? Do you find it useful to break out of the office sometimes?

Image credit: oandu 

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