With the appeal of freelancing, the number of office-less people entering (or re-entering) the workforce in Lebanon is on a constant rise. Entrepreneurs and young professionals who can't afford office space, students, and part-timers are also often looking for alternatives to working at home, where isolation and a host of distractions can quickly become problematic.

This list goes out to all these professional nomads roaming the streets of Beirut, computer or iPad in hand, on the perpetual lookout for a good WI-FI signal and a desk to settle down at.

Hackerspaces:


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Catering more specifically to geeks, hackerspaces are community-operated workspaces where people with common interests, often in computers, technology, science, digital art or electronic art, can meet, socialize and collaborate (and often build or make things).

There's only one hackerspace in Lebanon to date: Lamba Labs, located in Mar Mikhael. It offers a communal space "focused on the sharing of knowledge and hands on learning." Projects have a tech focus, but often wander off into the realms of art, music, and social activism. The price to become a member: $20 to $40 a month, with access to tools like a 3D printer and anything needed for electronic prototyping and development. The collective offers a bunch of free workshops, too.

Co-working Spaces:


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Coworking involves a shared working environment, in a shared office space. The concept is also about bringing together people working independently but who share similar values and skills, and the synergy that results from it.

In the past year, at least five different co-working spaces, largely geared to tech startups, have opened in Lebanon. Some are private-public partnerships, or strictly for-profit ventures like Cloud 5, Solidere’s 500-square-meter space. But others are youth-driven collectives for entrepreneurs, with perfectly affordable monthly or daily fees, and certain added advantages.

For example, Seeqnce, a startup accelerator based in Hamra, offers access to a zen lounge, kitchen, and high-speed Internet. Other coworking spaces include the recently launched Coworking +961, and AltCity, a media/tech/design startup community comprised of digital entrepreneurs, independent journalists, NGO members, and activists.

Cafes/bars:


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In a bind over a project, or struggling to write that last paragraph? Working in a cafe is often a good solution to productivity dry spells. Most coffee shops and bars in Beirut have decent (and free) WI-FI Internet and a quiet, productivity-stimulating atmosphere to boot. And one thing's for sure: the espresso will taste better than the one you'd get from a coffee machine. For suggestions, take a look at our list of five of the best cafes to get work done in Beirut.

WI-FI gardens:



A couple of year ago, the Telecommunications Ministry launched an initiative aimed at setting up free WI-FI Internet in 12 parks and public gardens across Lebanon. To this day, five parks in Beirut (the Mufti Hassan Khaled public garden , the Sioufi garden, the René Moawad garden, the Jesuit garden in Geitawi, and the Saint-Nicolas garden) have been equipped with the service, with reportedly seven more scheduled to follow suit. Added advantage: it's free, and you'll be working to the sound of birds tweeting, leaves rustling to the wind, and, erm, cars honking. But this option is strictly for minimal Internet use: WI-FI speed is considerably slower (what with the shared bandwidth) so don't expect to get much done.

Squatting:


(Photo via Wikipedia)

Reserved for a privileged few but admittedly the cheapest option of all: squatting in a relative or friend's office. If your father/mother/uncle/cousin/BFF/significant other owns his or her own company and has a desk to spare, consider asking them to accommodate you. Make yourself scarce, maybe buy your benefactor lunch as a thank you one of these days, and revel in the free Internet and lack of pressure to whip out your wallet.

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