The Coffee Shop Effect: the Rules and Etiquette of Working from the Café

Believe it or not, studies have shown that working from a coffee shop can actually increase productivity. As the writing company reveals, a change of scenery, gentle background noise, and a lack of distractions can all result in more work getting done – a phenomenon known as the coffee shop effect.

Whilst this may well be the case, at the end of the day, the café isn’t an office or a shared workspace, and those using it as such need to be mindful of other customers and the staff who work there.

Here are a few rules and reminders to follow if you do decide to take your laptop out for a coffee.

Stay safe online

Be aware that if you’re using public Wi-Fi, your data and the data of your company or clients won’t be protected if you don’t install a VPN for your PC. It will keep your data encrypted for extra security and ensure your browsing will be kept hidden from unnecessary surveillance. If you need to pay invoices or check banking details whilst you’re logged on in the café, having a VPN will ensure no one can get their hands on your details!

Make sure the boss is onside

Not all employers are happy with members of the team working from the local coffee shop, and it’s easy to understand why. If you’re trying to land a new client or have to take a call about improving company sales, the sound of background chatter and the whoosh of the espresso machine isn’t always a good look!

Be honest with yourself and measure your productivity. If you’re at odds with the coffee shop effect and are easily distracted by background noise or prone to a spot of people watching, you might be best off working somewhere a little quieter!

Keep the flat whites flowing

It sounds pretty obvious, but many café owners have become exasperated by people using their facilities for hours on end without purchasing anything beyond that initial cappuccino! It’s easy to become wrapped up in sending emails and writing reports, so be mindful of how long you’re spending at the table, particularly during peak times. Unfortunately, tap water doesn’t count, so if you’ve got your caffeine limit, try some herbal tea or go decaf to stave off the caffeine jitters!

Turn the volume down

a woman talking on her phone and using her laptop at a coffee shop

Whilst the odd low-level phone call is probably acceptable, be aware of long and loud conversations. Zoom calls are the ultimate faux pas – other customers won’t want to be embroiled in someone else’s office drama when they’re on their tea break!

Sense the tone

Some cafes are choc full of laptops, and serving as a shared workspace can become a brand identity for some establishments. If this is the case, type away!

For others, particularly smaller cafes, bringing in the office isn’t encouraged. Some venues will frequently change the Wi-Fi Code or cover up sockets to deter ‘laptop squatters’ whilst others are going as far as to ban laptops altogether. If you’re not sure, just ask, and be respectful if the answer’s no.

Whether you’re a perpetual remote worker or a digital nomad simply working on a blog post, we all sometimes need a change of scenery from the usual place we call work!

With many local businesses needing all the support they can get at the moment, as long you follow the basic etiquette, there’s no reason why you can’t conduct a bit of office admin whilst supporting your local café. Just don’t hog the best seat in the window for too long, take online security measures seriously, and keep the tips topped up and the call volume down!




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I'm Crystal. I'm married to Dale, and mother to Johnny.Some might say that my life is perfect because I get to do all the cliché wife things like cooking, cleaning, and decorating - but there's more! I also have many hobbies including needlework (crochet), sewing, and reading. My son's education is important, so we homeschool him together.

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