Author: Geraldo Figueras, marketer at remote company Xoxzo
Welcome to our “Working Remotely In…” series.
The idea with these series of posts is to get good insights on how to get the most out of your remote lifestyle in a particular city.
It doesn’t matter if said city is not ranked well in terms of the so-called “nomadic lifestyle” rankings you see out there. We believe that remote working is global, and not exclusive to nomad heavens such as Berlin and Chiang Mai.
We won’t score and analyse every little issue like our friends and nomadlist.com do, instead focusing on how to get the best out of the city, whatever the circumstances.
So, whatever you are living us, please let us know and share your own experiences. We’re really looking forward to it!
Tokyo is a fantastic city to work remotely, even though it is a place more known for its huge soulless corporations than a thriving, open environment for teleworking.
Here’s my take on the whys and hows behind Tokyo being my favorite city to work remotely in the world.
1 – It’s Safe
I carry a fully remote-equipped backpack complete with a powerful and light 13-inch laptop, accessories such as power banks, mobile wifi router and noise-canceling headphones, not to mention the occasional professional camera to enjoy my hobby on the way back home. The cost of such a backpack and its contents are enough so that, if something happened, it would take me months of salaries to regain everything.
And yet, I leave everything unattended on café tables if I have to step outside for a phone call or go to the bathroom (everything properly password, 2FA protected of course).
Japan, in general, is notorious for being so safe that people actually use their valuables to “secure” tables in public spaces. And within a lifestyle which I’m working by myself 99% of the time, with no colleague around to watch my stuff, being able to have this kind of freedom makes a lot of difference in my daily life.
2 – It’s Quiet
While still living back in Brazil where I was born, finding a quiet spot to work was always a challenge. Most offices and public spaces are lively with music and loud chattering, so for someone like me who needs a quiet place to focus it was really difficult to survive without noise canceling headphones.
Whereas the Japanese people are naturally more polite and reserved, meaning most places you go will lean towards soft background music and people keeping to themselves.
It’s quite the opposite: living in Tokyo, sometimes I look for livelier places so I don’t feel more isolated. And that’s just, in my opinion, a great kind of problem to have.
3 – Easy to Travel
Japan is compact and diverse. You can go basically anywhere from Tokyo, and after 1 hour inside a train or a low-cost flight you’ll get to very different scenarios than the typical metropolis grey.
Being able to work and travel at the same time without too much spent time is a glorious privilege. Since I got here I was able to keep up my daily work routines while donning complete Japanese traditional garments, cozying up beneath a warm kotatsu over tatami mattresses; I intercalated 2 hours of work with 30 minutes break inside hot springs; I had team calls from beautiful mountain observatories and lush landscapes sewed by green rivers.
Of course, it’s not something you can do all the time because I still need a basic routine to keep myself healthy, but those sporadic escapades without the need to go on vacation really help to achieve a highly satisfactory and balanced work life.
That said, let me point out some of my favorite places and resources so you can enjoy the best of your remote work life in Tokyo.
Favorite Coffee Shops:
Even though there are days where I just hop on a train and go exploring a different neighborhood and different place to work, I usually float between two coffee shops that are within walking and biking distance from my home.
Pelican Coffee was built inside a cottage style house and it’s my favorite place to both work and chill. With a mix of students, remote workers, and housewives from the rich Den En Chofu area, the place is usually quiet and has a great atmosphere to spend the day working. Not to mention the great selection of high-grade coffee beans and some delicious baked goods such as a huge blueberry muffin.
When I want a more lively – but still well-behaved by western standards – I move over to the Nakameguro branch of Streamer Coffee Company. If you have the stomach for it – which I don’t anymore, because of getting old reasons – their huge bowl of latte is not to be missed. This is a very remote-worker friendly place so you’ll comfortable spending the day.
It’s hard to not point to Yahoo! Lodge on the work-centric district of Akasaka. Taking over the 17th floor of a modern building, the biggest attraction here is that it’s actually free to use. Therefore, it can get busier than most places, yet the vibrant and creative atmosphere really helps if you want to be exposed to more vibrant workplace energy.
Another one I like to visit is The Hive Jinnan. Located in the quiet outskirts of the intense Shibuya neighborhood, this is one of the most beautifully decorated coworking spaces with a great variety of sitting setups and a very nice coffee shop inside. You can use it through membership or daily rates.
To wrap up, I highly recommend purchasing a mobile wifi router such as the ones made by GlocalMe. Not every public space is well served with wifi connections, and sometimes the quality is unreliable. GlocalMe opens up a lot of flexibility to roam the city, and the Japanese rates are quite affordable for excellent connection speeds. Get one, you’ll thank me later.
And that’s pretty much my general take on Tokyo for remote workers. Let me know in the comments if you would add something else to the list.
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