Jessica Ducey celebrates the bar as a place of work.
In January, I quit my job and ventured into the thrilling world of funemployment and contracting. One of the challenges of not having a traditional employer is also not having an office. Working from home is fun at first, but if you’re anything like me, eventually you need to manufacture reasons to bathe daily and put on pants before 3pm.
Enter the pub office. As a postgrad student in Scotland, I wrote approximately two thirds of my dissertation in my local pub (the Drouthy Neebors, if you happen to find yourself in St Andrews). I would set up in the corner a bit after midday, nurse a couple of pints until dinner, then head home around the time regular punters rolled in. I chose it because it didn’t have wifi, thus forcing me to write instead of succumbing to the temptation of the internet.
Since that fateful summer, I’ve grown to love pubs as adopted offices. Even when I’ve held ‘real’ jobs, I find myself knocking out the final bits of a proposal or report from the corner of a bar. They’re like cafes, but quieter in the afternoon, open later, and with better beverage options. I mean, whose work isn’t improved after a couple of beers?
And so, I bring you Working in Bars, a series of bar reviews from the perspective of an intrepid beer-loving freelancer. Many of these will be in Wellington, where I live, but I will endeavour to branch out as frequently as possible (please get in touch if you would like to bankroll this project). Where to start but my beloved local, Golding’s Free Dive? I live in the buildings overlooking the courtyard, and I have definitely never gone downstairs to ‘work’ after peeking over my balcony and seeing a cute dog at the outdoor tables. Never.
Sheer convenience has made Golding’s my primary office. The end of the bar served as Beer Calendar HQ, while I wrote the better part of a book chapter from the pigeon table. I even accidentally turned up to a meeting in my slippers once and no one batted an eye.
Spacious high top tables in the afternoon quiet are perfect for those 4pm ‘business meetings’ that merge seamlessly into happy hour. There’s enough space to spread out your notes or close that important deal over a shared jug (economical and collegial!). The low tables on the porch outside include snuggly heaters and a glass roof, so you can race your rapidly dwindling battery in
all weathers if you need that sense of urgency. The hard picnic benches and metal stools will also help you hurry to finish before your butt goes numb.
My favourite part of working in a pub is ploughing through the transition from empty silence to humming bar, but if you’re after a quieter vibe, you should bail before the post-work crowd rolls in. If you stay late, the clientele are the sorts to not bother a woman working alone, most likely because the staff won’t stand for it. The camaraderie amongst patrons means there’s always someone who will keep an eye on your laptop while you nip to the toilets, which are conveniently gender-neutral.
The wifi can get a bit spotty on a busy night, but in the mid-afternoon or late weeknight quiet, it’s perfect. Snacks are limited but perfectly curated – cracking, flawless sandwiches (I once composed a haiku ode to the ham and cheese, although many swear by the reuben), and, for the thrifty patron, bottomless orange snacks. If you’re feeling ambitious, pizza from neighbouring Pomodoro is another excellent option.
Verdict: Multiple accessible power outlets and reliable wifi. Best for quiet afternoons, business meetings with friendly clients, and undisturbed-but-noisy evening work. High chance of dog spotting.