These days, the idea of a traditional office is becoming more and more antiquated, especially with the new wave of young start-ups coming onto the market who are all keen to develop less conventional ways of working. But it’s not just new or smaller businesses that are re-evaluating how they see and use their office space. Employees from every sector are embracing greater flexibility in their working lives and this has led to the rise of a new space that many have transformed into offices of their own — the local coffee shop.
Studies have found that working from a café can boost productivity, but would you feel more ready to work surrounded by the sound of steaming milk and the smell of pastries than at your desk?
Recently, Chris J Reed talked about the benefits he found of working from his local Starbucks when he started his own marketing agency. For him, a central space to meet with clients was essential.
It is true that, apart from free Wi-Fi, snacks and endless caffeine on tap, a major benefit of holding meetings in a centrally-located coffee shop means an accessible venue for attendees without the hefty price tag of renting office space in town. The change of pace in a café, as opposed to the same four walls, can also provide a much needed break from the routine, especially if you work from home on a regular basis. The act of leaving your home office with a purpose will help to give you renewed energy and a brand new space may also help work to seem less of a chore and more like a treat.
You can also take advantage of the fact that, however much you plead, you cannot stay past closing time; so may well be motivated to complete your work within that set timeframe, further upping your productivity.
Just enough distraction?
It has often been said that the atmosphere of a coffee shop allows workers to become much more productive, with the soothing background murmur of people and machines the perfect balance between silence and
distracting noise. In an office, people are prone to interrupting you; at home, you can end up interrupting yourself with dozens of distractions to alleviate the boredom and quiet; but the coffee shop atmosphere implies the murmur of work without the distractions. In fact, there is even an app that re-creates the coffee shop environment through sound to help boost your productivity without having to leave your seat.
If you’re planning on working from a café, you’re in good company – J K Rowling wrote a lot of her Harry Potter series in coffee shops. However, you’ll need to be organised and focused in order to make the most of your time there.
Make sure that you know which café you’re going to use and have a backup plan just in case the Wi-Fi there is down, for example.
Make sure it’s the kind of place that will be happy for you to sit for hours as long as you make regular purchases and make sure it’s not going to be overcrowded, leaving you jostling for laptop space.
Needless to say, you will also have to make sure that you have everything you might need, appropriate chargers, etc. as going back for them will be a massive pain.
Set yourself manageable goals to achieve in the time that you’re there. If you have a set amount of work to do in the time it will keep you focused and help to snap you out of a spell of people watching.
If you’re planning on working there most of the day, take a book or magazine with you so you can have a break from your computer over lunch. Or find another place to relocate to in the afternoon for a change of scenery.
Make yourself popular
If you’re planning on making this a regular event, it may well be worth learning the names of the baristas who serve you, striking up small talk and tipping well, if appropriate. After all, if this is going to be your office away from the office, then you’ll want it to be as welcoming as possible. Remember Stephen C Paul’s maxim: “Everything you do can be done better from a place of relaxation.”