8 Lessons Learned from 2 Years Working from Coffee Shops

by in Remote Working Environments

For the last two years of my life, I have been working from coffee shops almost exclusively in several corners of the world. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for working in a public location and getting the most out of your day without a physical office to retreat to!

Always Buy, Always Tip

I thought this one was obvious until I read this review on Yelp so I’m putting it here at the top for good measure! If you’re working out of anywhere other than your home then buying something is a must, luckily modern cafes usually have more drinks and treats than you can shake a stick at. Don’t like paying $3 for a coffee? Think of it like paying for the seat, warmth, atmosphere and electricity instead :)

Be Like a Boy Scout

And by this I mean always prepared! Make sure to pack your extended charger (you never know how far away that socket will be), pens, moleskin, headphones, cables and anything else you need to do a productive day of work.

Foursquare is Your Friend

If you’re in a new neighborhood or even hunting for new places in a city you know well Foursquare is a great tool. You don’t just have to search for coffee either – try searches for wifi, quiet, comfy, laptops and other keywords to find just the right haunt.

Invest in Great Headphones

A general background noise can actually be great to work in if you’re the right type of person (check out this soundtrack of coffee shop ambience!). But you never know when there might be distracting people, terrible music or other noises – I always make sure to pack a pair of decent sennheiser in ear headphones for just these times.

Befriend the Barrista

It kind of goes without saying if you frequent anywhere on a regular basis but it’s always nice to get to know the people that are serving you, plus they are much less likely to be bothered on that odd day when you overstay your welcome.

Advertise On Your Laptop

If you’re running a business and often find yourself seated in different places then it can really pay to advertise on the back of your laptop. Personally my laptop is covered in different stickers, but you could do something like my friend Matt Gardner and show off your services for hire! It’s a super effective way of getting noticed and starting conversations.

Have an Internet Backup Plan

Of course from time to time the Internet just won’t work. As a seasoned coffee shop worker you shouldn’t let this stop you getting on with work. There are two ways to tackle this; have your own Internet by being able to tether or carry a mobile hotspot, or more simply make sure that on your todo list there are things you can do without the net such as writing emails, blog posts, graphics and other desktop-based tasks.

Choose Your Seat Wisely

Start with the height of your table, those couches might look comfy but what about after 30minutes of being hunched over your laptop on the coffee table? Got a good height? Now make sure you aren’t next to the door, the kitchen, or the coffee grinder!

If the place has large tables designed to take lots of people I always like to sit on those and keep the headphones out – you never know who might spark up a conversation.

Have we missed the one killer tip that you would give? Leave your advice for fellow cafe workers in the comments, we can’t wait to read and put it into action!

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About the Author

Tom Moor

Co-Founder of Sqwiggle. Full stack hacker, product design, backend, user interface and everything in between. I like to keep things simple and focus on the little details. Englishman in Limbo.