Years ago, I heard the term “GEOGRAPHICALLY INDEPENDENT” and my heart fluttered. What did it mean? Well, to me it meant being able to work from anywhere in the world. And that’s what I’m doing quite a bit of these days. And coffee shops, thank goodness, are just about everywhere I want to be. Brenda Spandrio, the LA Women’s Business Examiner, asked me a few questions about how I use my coffee time, at home locally and abroad.
1. What are the PROS of working from a coffee shop?
First of all, getting myself to a coffeeshop means that I’m up, showered, and dressed to be in the world. As a entrepreneur that works from home and hotel rooms around the world, I don’t underestimate the value of a ritual like coffee being the start of a workday. I show up at coffee shops because I meet people that I might not ordinarily meet otherwise. I find coffee shops are a great level playing field. I never really know who the artists, musicians, and writers are and who’s the big wealthy business owners and who’s looking for a job… Most places I go, it’s an unidentifiable mix. Another perk (aka perc, forgive the pun, yes, it was intention), is I get to be known in the heart of the community. It’s funny what people remember, if I helped them once with their iPhone or held their dog’s leash, then I become that woman who…
2. What are the CONS of working from a coffee shop?
Noise of the coffee grinder, wobbly tables, general stickiness on all flat surfaces, constant activity… I can’t write or really concentrate on paperwork when I’m in a coffeeshop. That’s why I’m always focused on meeting people, connecting and talking. I like to pick up the personality of a town from their relationship to the coffee scene. Do the locals know the barista’s names? Do the barista’s know the locals’ drinks by heart. Is there a dog water bowl by the front door? Is there a honor-system book shelf, this is my favorite… Take one, leave one policy. When I find all of these ingredients in one place, I know I’ve found “my people”… When I write, I want a “cone of silence” around me. Complete quiet, free from distractions, movements and other unsettling activity. So I have NO expectation of doing paperwork/emails/article writing at the coffeeshop. But it does give me the insights, questions and plot to some great stories.
3. What tips do you have for being most productive when working at a coffee shop?
This is a chance for me to practice talking about what I do, what parts of my business I love, and that sort of thing. It’s a training ground for business mixers which always seems a little stiff. I ask people questions and listen. People will share the most amazing, intimate things with strangers in a coffeeshop. It’s a chance to practice all those skills in being a better person. The person I want to be. Oh yeah, last thing… Don’t wear white.
4. The coffee shop is a place of business; what etiquette ought patrons observe when using the coffee shop as a workplace?
Buy something for heaven’s sake! Don’t just suck down their free wi-fi, make it worth their while to furnish a chair, table, and any other amenities they’ve got going on, like a powerstrip or outlet that gives you the ability to stay past your laptop battery life… I figure I’m spending $4/hour on my seat, and I get a free latte that comes with it. When you think of it that way, it’s the BEST DEAL IN TOWN! If you’re not up to forking over some money, don’t go to a place of business. Go to the public library or some other government subsidized location. When you come to appreciate your 2nd place of work, ie your favorite coffeeshop, then give them a shout out on your communities like Twitter, FourSquare, Facebook, Yelp and spread the wealth. Share the love.
Interview Questions by:
The LA Women’s Business Examiner
Certified Productive Environment Specialist