The rise of the urban mobile office has made finding that perfect spot to park one’s laptop something of an art. In Toronto, though cafés abound and even your butcher gives out Wi-Fi like candy, discovering a workspace that offers a sweet blend of ambience, aesthetics and quality coffee — not to mention outlets (Chapters.Indigo at Scotiabank Theatre, we’re looking at YOU) — can require out-of-the-box thinking. Whether you’re self-managed or simply looking for a Saturday afternoon haunt to clock some extra hours, the following are places to bunker down that, hey, aren’t Starbucks.
The Leisurely: The Tampered Press Café
The natural light that filters through large picture windows overlooking Trinity Bellwoods Park is impetus enough to try this Dundas West mainstay, but an expansive communal table frequently shared by attractive young professionals may just keep you. High ceilings and exposed brick make for a warm space that’s far from claustrophobic — individual tables are available for those who’d rather not share — and the friendly baristas happily serve up strong espresso and sinful pastries for you to nurse while camped out next to a coveted outlet. 256 Crawford St., 416-534-9739.
The Nostalgic: Toronto Reference Library [pictured]
Even though your schooldays are well behind you, this centrally-located downtown hub of productivity could be the perfect place to get motivated. (It also bears mentioning that all TPL locations offer free Wi-fi and, varying from branch to branch, decent desking/seating options.) While the Met Ref’s main floor tends to be occupied by tutors and their protégées, the four floors above generally provide a tranquil atmosphere and a fairly majestic interior view. As students and freelancers simultaneously slog, feelings of camaraderie can arise; in fact, sitting next to that kid plodding through his third-year physics textbook will likely make you relish whatever’s happening on your laptop. Unfortunately, power outlets are somewhat scarce and the Internet can be known to slow to a crawl. Still, there’s always the Starbucks next door if you’ve got a dire need to relocate. 789 Yonge St., 416-393-7131.
The Hip: Centre for Social Innovation
With two downtown locations on offer, the CSI makes lacking a conventional office space ridiculously hip. CSI Spadina is a restored warehouse replete with rooftop garden, indoor bicycle parking and four floors of potential workspace — both communal and private. The newer Annex site provides five floors of airy, open-concept space ideal for the freelancer or consultant. Both locations hum with activity as the city’s most progressive and savvy organizations share permanent office space or rent out meeting rooms. If you’re looking to network and the phrase “salad potluck” doesn’t make you want to throw up in your mouth, consider rental options ranging from private office space to (communal) “hot desk” space. Of course, hobnobbing with the intelligentsia doesn’t come cheap: space goes for anywhere between $250 to $2400 per month, depending on the set-up. CSI Spadina: 215 Spadina Ave., suite 400, CSI Annex: 720 Bathurst St. 416-979-3939.
The Inspired: AGO
With wireless access available throughout the gallery, even the non-member can exploit the aesthetics of Frank Gehry’s warm woods, pristine spaces and soaring ceilings. Get settled on a quiet bench and let the hushed tones of gallery goers sweep over you as you contemplate your impending tasks and tap out some initial ideas. When you and your future offspring tire of cradling the computer on your lap, head to cafeAGO for table space, a caffeine infusion and self-serve seasonal fare. 317 Dundas St. W., 416-979-6648.
Image courtesy of Sabrina Mae.