There’s something about the sound and smell of a café that is incredibly soothing and conducive to focused work. It’s a place to socialise, or be alone, to work, or to relax, to network, or hide out… Coffee shops are a haven for work-from-home entrepreneurs and freelancers – giving us a place to go where we can spend time in the company of others (even though they might be strangers) and feel the buzz of life (and work) happening around us.
There are a lot of unspoken rules about working from a café though, and customer etiquette isn’t always considered. To support these spaces we all value so much, here a just a few things you can do to stay in the good graces of café owners and fellow coffee connoisseurs…
Show your support
Your local café may feel like your office away from home, but it’s a business like any other – it’s best not to take advantage of their hospitality by ordering one cup of coffee and then spending the next 7 hours drinking water. Generally, you should be ordering something every two hours or so, and that should probably include food if you’re there during the breakfast or lunch rush. Remember, they’re giving you a free workspace and Wi-Fi, along with the social energy that makes cafés such a great place to work. They rely on paying customers to keep them in business – show your support for your fellow entrepreneurs and business owners by making your work worth their while.
Even if you didn’t order much, your waitron is still keeping an eye on you, making themselves available when you need something. A good tip shows your thanks and appreciation, and ensures you’re welcomed back the next time you visit.
You might love your taste in music, but there’s no guarantee that the other customers will – wearing headphones will give you that nice background buzz, as well as the focus you need to get things done. Plus, it gives you a little privacy to watch webinars or cat videos in peace.
Use your inside voice
A lot of people take calls in coffee shops, but it can get a little out of hand when everyone’s shouting at the person on the other end of the line. The rule of thumb is always to take it outside or try to keep your voice down. You also don’t want people listening in on your conversation – it might break some non-disclosure agreements or privacy policies.
Make sure you sit close to a plug point if you need to charge your devices – you don’t want long cords tripping people up – especially when there are hot beverages on the move. Even better, arrive with your devices fully-charged so that you’re not at the mercy of available plug points.
With great Wi-Fi comes great responsibility
Not all coffee shops offer free Wi-Fi, so when you find one that does, treat it like gold. Unfortunately, that means you shouldn’t be streaming Netflix or downloading all five seasons of Breaking Bad. The Wi-Fi has to serve everyone, so respect their bandwidth limits and use it for email, Google, and digging way too deeply into the Facebook profiles of your high school enemies.
There are only so many tables and chairs in a coffee shop or café – if it’s just you and your laptop, leave the bigger tables to the bigger groups. It’s tempting to spread out, especially if you arrived during a quiet period, but rather than taking up too much space and getting the evil eye from other customers, find a compact spot away from the action – you’re less likely to be asked to move.
Treat the café owners and staff with kindness and courtesy, and you’ll find you receive it back in spades. A good customer will always get great service.
Have we missed any ground rules for the daily grind? Share yours in the comments!