A remote worker explains why she stands by the controversial practice of working from movie theaters
- A remote worker shared a video of herself on her laptop while at the movie theater.
- In the caption she encouraged others to use the space as an office.
A remote worker who encouraged others to use a quiet movie theater as a temporary office has caused a stir online, as some loved the idea while others felt it was inconvenient all around.
On November 16, Hanna Williams, a 25-year-old freelance writer from Los Angeles, California, posted a video filmed in what appeared to be a movie theater, holding an open laptop that appeared to display an email inbox, while a scene played out on the screen in the background.
An on-screen caption in the TikTok read, "this is your sign to go to an empty 11am movie on a WFH day."
@hannaleighwilliams #wfh #amc #amcstubsmember #fyp ♬ Now That We Don't Talk (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault) - Taylor Swift
At the end of the video, which was tagged at the location of AMC Theatres in Sterling Heights, Michigan, the camera showed Williams sitting in her theater seat, giving a thumbs up.
The upload received 954,000 views and over 860 comments, which were torn on the temporary office.
A popular comment said they'd forgotten they had "free will" and could do this sort of thing, while another viewer described it as an "amazing idea," and a further commenter jokingly asked the TikToker to keep the whole thing a secret, as they suggested they did the same thing as a freelancer too.
Williams told Business Insider in an email exchange that she juggled multiple freelance roles, which included writing product reviews and writing for a mobile game. She usually worked from home or at a co-working space, and this was her first time working remotely in a theater, but she said it definitely wouldn't be the last.
"I figured, I write all the time with the TV on in the background, why couldn't I do it at the movies, too?" she told Business Insider.
But some people were against the idea, saying it seemed inconvenient not only for the person working, as they might have to take a short-notice call or video chat, but for others who may be in the same screening who would have to put up with the bright laptop screen and the sounds of typing.
In a series of comments, Williams went into further detail and explained she had checked the seating in the theater app first to ensure the space was empty, that she was an AMC Stubs member which meant she could use the cinema Wi-Fi. She added that she sat against the back wall with her laptop brightness turned right down.
Another comment suggested this was the sort of behavior that led employers to push for workers to return to in-person office work.
But Williams disagreed. "If companies are gonna force people back into the office, they're gonna do it no matter what we do," she told Business Insider.
Williams said she wanted to remind those who did have flexibility in their role to "experiment a little."
Williams told BI she hoped other people took her up on the idea of working in the movie theater, although she emphasized it was important to be respectful of others.
"If I felt like I was bugging someone, the laptop would've gone straight away," she told Business Insider. "Definitely don't want to ruin the movie experience for anyone."
The number of remote workers dipped to its lowest level since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic between September 20 and October 2, according to Census Bureau data, but a quarter of households still have one remote worker.
Despite increasing moves to drive employees back to the office, many are still arguing against it, saying they are more productive and have a better work-life balance working remotely — whether that's from a traditional home office, or, apparently, a less conventional location too.
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