Working from a coffee shop: yay or nay?

Remote workers that don’t have an office building to go to are required to come up with something else: they could create a workspace at home, go to a shared office, pay a membership for a coworking space or… work from a coffee shop.

The latter is pretty popular amongst remote workers and that’s understandable. It’s the perfect golden mean between working from home and paying to work from a coworking space.

The first one can get pretty lonely when you spend too much time there and the other one can be a bit too expensive if you can’t afford it or are on a tight budget.

So working from a coffee shop (not the Dutch kind BTW) is great, because it’s usually free and you can avoid the solitude at home! Win win!

The coffee shop as we know it today

The coffee shop industry is at an all-time high, with coffee shops springing up like mushrooms everywhere in the cities. There are many reasons why these coffee shops are so popular, especially among the younger generations.

First of all, they have the art of coffee making down to a science, a simple cappuccino or latte macchiato won’t do it for most people. No, they want some fancy schmancy drinks (usually very overpriced, but yummy) with all of the extras you can put in and on top of the drink. Most of these cafes, especially the indie coffee shops, have a killer interior design that’s usually very insta-worthy — and trust me, that attracts customers. They tag the place on Instagram, people see it and go check it out, guaranteed.

And most of these coffee shops, both independent businesses and chains, have strong WiFi, and let that be just what you need as a remote worker. If a coffee shop doesn’t provide strong WiFi, a big group of clients just won’t go there.

When you pass by a cafe with a lot of hardworking people inside, you feel more inclined to go in. There is something quite inspiring about seeing a bunch of people work from their laptop, I can’t help but feel “That’s cool, I want to do that too”. And it means good business for the cafe! Or maybe not at all...

Attention: some coffee shops run a strict no-laptop policy!

But — there is always a but — coffee shops are not all sunshine and rainbows. As for the worker, the biggest struggles is probably the noise in a coffee shop, the coffee machines, the music, the talking and so on.

Distraction might keep you from your work probably more than at home, for example. But with some good noise cancelling headphones you can get that out of the way.

For coffee shop owners however, attracting a lot of remote workers to their place is not always ideal. Starbucks and Costa Coffee probably won’t feel the damage too much, but having customers sit in your cafe all day, stealing your WiFi, but only ordering one drink, is just not profitable or sustainable.

Some coffee shop owners don’t open a business with the intention of having it packed with online workaholics.

Coffee art - let's be honest, we all enjoy the little drawings
Coffee art - let's be honest, we all enjoy the little drawings

New trends, new rules

So before you head to a coffee shop, I suggest you check out what it’s like there. More and more cafes nowadays actually have a strict no-laptop policy, they’re only for customers that want to come enjoy a warm cup of coffee.

And to be honest, there is something authentic about that. Other places ask you not to use your laptop around lunch time, so more people can come in and use the tables for what they’re actually meant for, eating.

Some cafes only give you 1 hour free access to their WiFi, meaning “please don’t stay too long.”

Others charge you for a seat per hour, but coffee and WiFi are included. So do your research before you head out! Thank god there is a tool for everything. I’ll leave you with this app: Work Hard Anywhere and this website:

Based on the reviews from others it’ll be easier to determine whether the cafe is what you’re looking for or not.

Please stick to the coffee shop etiquette

No matter where you decide to go, you should always try to stick to the coffee shop etiquette (yes, that’s a thing) to make life nice and easy for everybody.

WikiHow even has a page on how you should behave if you work from a coffee shop (with pictures too! They’re spoiling us). So there is no point in me repeating all of that, but I’ll give you the most important ones: please order more than one drink, don’t take up too much space (one chair is enough), don’t be rude and when the place is about to close, just pack your things and go.

Be considerate of these things and you should be good to go!

One caramel macchiato with almond milk and an extra shot of espresso for me please, and back to work!

Credit where credit's due - Resources used:


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