For anyone who works remotely—whether every day or just once in a while—there’s something energizing about working out of your local Starbucks or local coffee shop. However, it’s not just about the free Wi-Fi or addictive beverages.
Recently, I had left work for a doctor’s appointment but had about an hour to kill before picking my kids up from school. Since I already had my computer with me, I headed to the nearest Starbucks, ordered my favorite $4 drink, and attempted to find a table to get some work done. I hadn’t done this in probably over a year, and I must admit that it was amazing: I felt like I was in a hub for freelancers and other professionals. Pretty much every table was taken by people who were actually working, not just sipping lattes. There was a buzz in the air, and I could definitely understand why so many people choose Starbucks and other coffee shops as their work spots (I know someone who wrote an entire book out of her local Starbucks!)
Sure, it’s no secret that coffee shops have become synonymous with working remotely. However, if so many people are going to make these places their pseudo offices, then we’ve all got to follow some basic etiquette.
Here, some suggestions I’ve heard from people who often work out of my local Starbucks:
Don’t take up too much space.
Most coffee shops are small, so if you’re alone don’t snag a big table or push two two-tops together so you have room to spread out your laptops, papers, and purses or other bags. In other words, make room for others. There is one place this point might not apply down the road—a crazy, huge Starbucks coming to Chicago. Like 43,000 square feet huge!
Keep it down.
This one goes out to the guy sitting a few tables over from me on my recent afternoon working at Starbucks: Yes, we are all impressed that you’re working on a huge, important deal that’ll bring in tons of cash to your company. But we really don’t want to hear about it. Talk at a regular volume. Please.
This should go without saying, but people actually camp out at coffee shops eating a sandwich and drinking bottled water they brought from home. Don’t brown bag it if you’re going to take a table for hours on end. Order a beverage or snack every two hours or so.
Keep your area neat.
No, it’s not cool to create a virtual obstacle course with your power cords and laptop bag. Make sure no one can trip over your stuff.
Don’t demand Wi-Fi.
Not all coffee shops offer free Wi-Fi. In fact, some are consciously taking it away or limiting it to encourage conversation among patrons. Years ago, even some Starbucks in New York City started plugging up outlets so people could only stay as long as their batteries lasted. Also, don’t complain to the baristas if the Wi-Fi isn’t fast enough for you….they are not your personal IT department.
If you really plan to work out of a coffee shop every day, you might want to consider other plans. After all, let’s face it—these places are usually pretty congested and they’re often so noisy that it makes it very difficult to have an important work call or Skype a colleague. Here are some other great options.