Busy Barnacles: Find places to work remotely near you.

Alek DarrFront Page, Produce

Recently, Abrigo provided all employees with a Wellness Week to recharge after a hectic period of time during Paycheck Protection Program activity. The Wellness Week allowed us to disconnect from work for a week. The company even provided all employees with a stipend to sweeten the deal. During my Wellness Week, I began Google’s UX Design Certificate Course on Coursera to aid me in my pursuit of more experience with User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) activities.

I am more productive when I work remotely outside of my home. So, I sought out alternative workplaces on days that I intended to work on the course. It’s a relatively simple task if you’re aware of the establishments around you. Notably, places that offer an atmosphere suitable for studying/working while consuming their products. Coffee shops are a good example.

One day, during my Wellness Week, I had just finished delivering coffee to my girlfriend at work. I had a coffee in-hand and was seeking a place to work for a few hours. A coffee shop wasn’t in the cards unless I intended to buy something else to warrant my presence. I did not intend to buy something else at the time. I had to find somewhere to work for a short period of time – free of charge. We’re still relatively new to the Triangle, so I haven’t put any time/effort into figuring out the Public Library situation around here. That’s also not the type of environment I was looking for.

I took to Google and Reddit (for any redditors reading this in Raleigh, North Carolina – check out the r/raleigh and r/triangle subreddits. They’re both quite vibrant!) to see if I could find some suggested places around me that I could go work for no cost. I came across a number of blogs/articles that made general suggestions, such as the Public Library. I couldn’t find a tool that allowed me to find specific places in my area that offered what I was looking for.

Busy Barnacles is born!

I like to make things from time to time, and this seemed like an interesting problem to work on. My friend provides a tool called Side Project Stack, which is essentially a guide for those looking to build products using no code. I went to his page, found a tool (Softr), and was able to build a prototype for the system I was seeking – all in less than a day. It’s called Busy Barnacles.

Call the name ridiculous if you want, but I feel that it’s accurate – a barnacle is an organism that latches onto a vessel of some sort to satisfy it’s own needs. I was basically the barnacle looking for a place, or vessel, to get down to business. The busy part is self-explanatory; I intend to be productive when I work, no matter where I am! When I discovered busybarnacles.com was available for purchase, I knew it was the perfect fit. I threw in a graphic of a turtle with (what look to be) barnacles on it as a little extra pizzazz. The turtle’s name is Captain Barnacles according to the description. Perfect.

Crowd-sourced directory of places to work remotely.

I wanted the application to have a few features initially:

  1. A resource directory accessible immediately on the homepage.
  2. Options to filter the directory based on desired criteria, such as a place’s features (free WiFi, free parking, coffee available, etc.) and its cost (No Cost, Low Cost, High Cost).
  3. The ability for a user to contribute a new place to the list, easily, without having to create an account or jump through any other similar hoops.

You’ll notice that all of these things are present and working, with the addition of a couple extras. User feedback validated some.

  1. When a user submits a place to the application, it is not initially visible. I want to make sure the submissions are accurate and valuable, so I intend to review each submission unless something drastic happens in terms of volume of submissions. Monitoring submissions is useful because it helps to assure the places available in the application are high-quality.
  2. When a user submits a place to the application, Airtable automations trigger emails to send to the user and I. Informing users that their submission was successful is an enjoyable experience for the user.
  3. The user will receive an email, via an Airtable automation, when their submission is published. The email will include a direct link to the place’s page. This is also enjoyable for the user, given they are informed that their submission is now published on the site for other users to see!
  4. The place will include the first name and last initial of the user that submitted it. This is enjoyable for the user because they get credit for their submissions. This is currently the best way I can think to incentivize user submissions. I’m actively seeking other ways to add incentives for users.

Get busy, barnacles!

The application is live! Access it by going to https://busybarnacles.com. Please give it a look, and if you like what you see, please consider adding a place to the application! You’ll also see a general contact form on the homepage of the site. If you have any thoughts, observations, comments, concerns, feedback, etc., etc., please use the contact form to send them over!