Now that working from coffee shops is officially a thing, with its own half-hour documentary on Radio 4, and a meeja voice in the shape of Chris Ward and his interesting website WorkWhereYouLike – I find myself at last in the zeitgeist. Yes! Quite an achievement for an emptynester in want of an Instagram account, a holiday in Costa Rica and anything Apple-related.
Indeed, many of the lo-fi things I’ve done for years, like grinding around on a battered old bike, reading historical fiction and wearing comfy shoes, are having a bit of a moment. Pure coincidence of course. I’ll still be doing these things when they’re as hip as last year’s cupcakes. But like the proverbial stopped clock, this is my time to be right (here, right now).
Get to the point old woman
I digress. You came to this post for my position on coffee-shop working. Well, it certainly seems to be a trend that’ll be around for a while, as more people, by choice or circumstance, are no longer office-bound. As property and commuting prices push workers out of cities and into their own locality, there needs to be some recognition that people are going to work in places not originally designed for the purpose.
So here’s my manifesto for harmonious and mutually beneficial relations between coffee shop owners and users.
As a working customer, I’ll:
- Take up an amount of space proportionate to the amount I’m spending in your establishment
- Readily respond to a polite request to share tables, or move to make room for a bigger party
- Spend a reasonable amount of money on food and drink – see this Daily Mash report
- Conduct phone/Skype calls (yes, braver people than me do Skype in caffs) as briefly and quietly as possible
- Not take the p*** by eating or drinking anything I haven’t bought from you
- Try to resist the urge to tweet what happens between mummies/au pairs and their infant charges, at #whatthefreelancersaw
As a coffee shop owner, I’ll:
- Provide lots of sockets and not just next to the best seats, where coffice workers will feel guilty for taking up residence. (In fact we often prefer being tucked away at the back, where our gawping/frowning ‘screen face’ is less visible.)
- Provide practical seating and tables. (Tiny, rickety bistro sets, beaten-up sofas and coffee tables may suit the vibe but are really uncomfortable to work on.)
- Attempt to recognise and greet regular customers. (Funnily enough, the faceless chains can be better at this than the independents – again I’m indebted to the Daily Mash investigative team.)
- Have a loyalty scheme.
Of course, owners wishing to discourage coffice working simply need to do the opposite of the above.
Something for everyone I think.