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I set up an office inside my local McDonald's

Here's how working remotely is affected by the aroma of fries.

Most millennials participating in the gig economy are familiar with operating within a six-by-six workspace in almost any location. In the Twin Cities, on-demand workspaces like CoCo and WeWork have sprung up to meet the demands of telecommuters, offering aesthetically pleasing office spaces with premium amenities in slick downtown buildings. 

But they’ll cost you. To get 24/7 access, even without a dedicated, personal desk, it'll run you about $220 a month from WeWork and $375 from CoCo. In my freelance days, that cost would accounted for most, if not all of my income. Yikes. Hello, McDonald's on East Lake Street in Minneapolis.

I heard from Mecca that the WiFi is free, and a small coffee is only a dollar, so that's a good start. Overall, how do the golden arches stack up as a workspace?

Desk space: I grabbed a four-seat fast food booth, with an upgraded back cushion because this is a recently renovatedMcDonald’s. While the seat is definitely not your average desk chair, the unrelenting plastic does have a somewhat galvanizing factor on productivity. Plus, the booth’s table offers plenty of space for a laptop, notebook, and your inevitable bag of fries.

WiFi and power: The McDonald’s WiFi is free, requires no password, and is speedy enough to load videos without lag time. While they’re not at every single table, there are more than enough outlets to provide power for several telecommuters, although this could vary by location.

Noise and distractions: Mickey D’s is definitely not the quietest place to work, but the daytime crowd at this location isn’t rowdy either. Outside of the half-hour uptick in noise during the lunch rush, I was perfectly comfortable taking a business call. I didn’t wear headphones, but none of the staff or customers bothered me in the slightest. I wasn’t especially confident about leaving my laptop and backpack unguarded during my bathroom breaks, but my paranoia was unfounded. Trying to focus while resisting the allure of sizzling french fry grease was challenging.

Value: Heavily dependent upon your willpower. I was tempted into both breakfast and lunch during my three-plus-hour work session, but a stronger person than I might be able to get by with just a cheap coffee. Best case scenario, you’re in and out for less than $5. Hungrier hearts should expect between $7-15.

Perks: America’s most-beloved fries. Chicken nuggets. Free refills on coffee. There’s even a RedBox if you’re the kind of person who still rents movies in 2017.

Vibe: In three hours, I was the only person on a laptop, which is admittedly a little weird. The clientele here is diverse, from folks in ties and dress shirts to construction workers, and retirees to high school kids. Still, I was the only one obviously using the restaurant as a work space. Not uncomfortable, but also hard not to feel out of place.

Overall: McDonald’s offers value, especially if you’ve got more self-control than I do. With locations freaking everywhere, they’re a fantastic fallback office, especially on the road. That being said, the environment doesn’t really do anything overtly positive for your productivity, and the turn-and-burn atmosphere keeps you checking the clock. I wouldn’t recommend it for a marathon workday, but definitely for a few hours.

Where do you like to work? Send suggestions to zach [at] gomn.com.

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