Dispatch: Working from Amsterdam

I know how it must sound. Tell someone I’m working for a month in Amsterdam, and their mind goes straight to the gutter: the city’s famous marijuana dispensaries, the picturesque canals, the ridiculous number of bars and pubs, the titillating Red Light District, and the list goes on.

It’s true: this is a fun city. But of course, I’m here on a professional mission, too—to learn, grow, evolve and share. While there’s plenty of time for fun (the list of which is far more impressive than the aforementioned, let me tell you), I’m also here to work. It just so happens this is an awesome city in which to be a creative professional.

My workday here in Amsterdam looks remarkably similar to my workday in Buffalo, thanks to this internet thing. Client work never falls behind because of my location. Meetings are held primarily through video-conferencing apps like Highfive, conference-call platforms like UberConference, or VoIP services like Slack’s phone feature. (And since I have a T-Mobile account, I can use my phone here as if I were in North America. Thanks, T.)

The only significant difference is the time, of course. This usually works in my favor, since I tend to work better in the late afternoon or evening; being six hours ahead gives me that advantage if I choose to work in tandem with the home team in Buffalo. However, most days begin with a quiet morning and lunch at an area coffee shop, of which there are so many, thanks to the city’s many freelance designers, artists, writers and consultants. Most serve a light breakfast and lunch menu (and beer, if you’re one of those kind of Europeans) and room for group work. After a few hours of email-free work (hallelujah!), I walk home and get ready for my daily meeting with the team. That’s when we get to see each other’s pretty faces as we go through our day—the one that they’re just beginning, at 9:30 a.m., and the only I’ve almost completed, at 3:30 p.m. What a world.

The city also has a number of creative workspaces, like the one pictured here, Sir Albert’s Creative, an auxiliary of the famous hotel brand. It’s a sort of popup office space where you can go to work independently or collaboratively with whoever else is there that day, like a coffee shop without the coffee (but probably also with coffee). Most of these places offer monthly subscription rates with a range of access plans. These workspaces also offer you the option to host group meetings, presentations and art openings—your very own part-time office co-op! Some sell merchandise to help offset operational costs. I have not yet tried one out, but I plan on visiting before my time here is up.

It’s just one of the things that’s on my list of must-do, must-see and must-taste opportunities here in Amsterdam. And it’s all in a day’s work!