The most magical Zoom meeting on Earth: Remote workers share the most unique places they’ve logged in

Editor’s Note: ‘Happy Hour’ is an HR Dive column from Reporter Ginger Christ. Follow along as she dives into some of the offbeat news in the HR space.

Minnie Mouse rounds the corner, and you give the leading lady of Disney World a little wave while slurping on a Dole Whip Float. 

A meeting reminder pops up on your laptop screen, and you log into Zoom with a fake background, noise-canceling headphones secured over your mouse ears. 

Disney World: It’s the happiest place on Earth — and a new remote work hot spot.

As NBC News reported, increasingly more remote workers are clocking in from Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Magic Kingdom or Sunshine Seasons in EPCOT. But it doesn’t end there. Workers in Toronto regularly make Chuck E. Cheese their home base, ordering pizza and coffee to fuel their workday, per the New York Post. 

As hybrid and remote work becomes a more ingrained part of employees’ lives, workers are exploring the full depths of the flexibility these options offer. From “quiet vacationing” — taking hush trips without using paid time off — to becoming digital nomads — working from around the world — remote workers are leaving the kitchen table behind in favor of palm trees or the Animal Kingdom. 

I, like many, started working remotely in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic shut the world down. I’ve never gone back. 

As a remote employee, I’ve filed stories from the doctor’s office, edited articles on a plane and posted on social media from the mechanic. But, as a career journalist, working from random places isn’t really that unique. 

After covering events or meeting sources for interviews, even when I had an office, I often found myself holed up in the nearest restaurant, hotel or cafe with somewhat reliable wifi. I’ve made last-minute changes to a story from the passenger seat on the way to a campground, lost reception and had to blindly find my way to a town in search of service. I’ve worked from many a parking lot, and I’ve taken source calls from a handful of parties. 

But I’ve never written a column alongside Goofy. Nor have I held a meeting with Chuck E. Cheese (creepily) watching from the background. 

I reached out on social media to find out where readers and friends have put hours on the clock. 

One writer said he conducted interviews during the breaks of a pickup basketball game. A journalist recalled the time she took a work call from the grandstand at Warped Tour 2018 in Nashville, which she said was “the least punk-rock thing ever.” 

A photographer said she’s worked from “pools, a beach and very loud dance competitions.” A vice president of operations said she’s “sent many an email and [taken] many a call on the sidelines of [her] kids’ sports practices.” For her, “remote work = better family flexibility,” she said. Another worker travels the world while working and said the Panama Canal was a highlight, particularly the observation deck where you can watch ships go by while still having access to wifi. 

I may not want to work from a major theme park or stageside at an animatronic mouse’s show, but I fully support trusting and valuing workers enough not to gatekeep where they work. In my experience, giving workers autonomy is a great tool for retention and well-being.

As an effective manager once told me, “As long as the work gets done, I don’t care where or when you do it.” Maybe I should set some flight alerts and take this writing show on the road?