How to Work Remotely in the Muskoka Cottage Country


The Muskoka District may be the unofficial popup satellite office capital of Canada over the summer months.

Thousands of professionals, remote workers, and digital nomads flock to the area over the summer. Even though this is a summer playground, a lot of business gets done at these cottages.

As popular and populated as it may be in peak season, this is still cottage country. There is a certain degree of “roughing it” that goes hand-in-hand with setting up to work there.

Here is how to set yourself up to be as productive as possible.

Rise With the Sun

This one may be a little bit tricky, depending on how many dock-tails you have the night before. But, getting an early start on the day is doing yourself a huge favor.

This will be the coolest and the calmest time of the day. If you’re staying with family and friends, getting up and getting to work while they’re still asleep will give you the quiet time you need to really focus and hammer through a lot of work.

Plus, you’re done sooner in the day, which means you don’t feel like you’re missing out as much as you salvage a lot of the afternoon sun.

Set Up Your Office Strategically

First and foremost, if your cottage doesn’t have Wi-Fi (gasp), you’re going to have to walk around and find the area where your phone gets the best cell signal. Fortunately, most of the area is well covered with LTE. However, this is still the woods and you’re facing signal-killing barriers like hills, valleys, and trees.

Look for the best signal in the cottage and pray that it’s not the bathroom. A weak-ish signal is fine if you’re only doing a bit of web browsing and responding to emails all day. But, the moment you need to jump on a conference call or download a big file, you’re going to need speed and reliability.

If you know in advance that you are going to be doing some data-heavy downloads or you have a Slack call, you might want to plan ahead and go to one of the area’s amazing coffee shops and use their Wi-Fi.

Finally, you also don’t want to set up in a high-traffic area. People going in and out all day may cause too much distraction, as well as give you FOMO.

Set the Ground Rules

Make sure you firmly (but politely) explain to family and friends that hours X to Y are your working hours. You will need privacy and space during that time.

At the same time, even if you’re on Wi-Fi, bandwidth may be limited in remote areas. You may have to ask people to do their best to stay off of Spotify during those hours and save you some bandwidth. This is a bigger concern when the weather turns bad and everyone else is forced inside.

Most Importantly: Enjoy This

Giving yourself a finite schedule and the conditions you need to be productive will temporarily remove you from the fun for a bit, so you can actually enjoy the fun later.

A lukewarmly productive day may make you feel a bit guilty and make it difficult to 100% “clock off” for the day. However, if you know you put in a good day, it makes it much easier to close your laptop at the end of the day and really enjoy yourself.