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How to Use a Coffee Shop As an Office and Not Be THAT Person

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COFFEE SHOP WORK
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First appeared on Food Riot by Susie Rodarme

Confession: I used to be that person who got super annoyed at people who work in coffee shops. I hated how they would spread their laptops all over the place, hog up space because they had to be near an outlet, sip the same damn cup of coffee for three hours when the table could have turned over several times in the interim and brought the coffee shop more money.

I still hate those things, but I am one of those people who uses a coffee shop as an office now. Unashamedly.

Since I got this writing gig (not to mention being the editor of my own, less illustrious site), I found that I really did work better when I was out of the house and pouring a steady stream of caffeine into my person. I concentrate better when I don't have fifty things in my peripheral vision nagging, "Hey! We are things that need to be done! Why aren't you doing us? WHY? WHY? WHY?" And that's before my cats start grumbling at me or using me as human cat furniture.

So where do I go? The coffee shop. Of course.

I imposed some rules on myself, though. I think these rules kind of mystify the employees, who will occasionally give me a break on something and look at me like I'm insane when I say no, no-I want to pay full price. Because I'm aware that camping out in the same seat for hours doesn't help my favorite neighborhood coffee shop, and I don't want to hurt their business while also using their electricity and free WiFi.

These are my rules for using a coffee shop as an office:

Take up the smallest space possible. I see people unnecessarily using two tables when they really could condense down into one and scoot that second table over so that it could be used by someone else. I know being near an outlet is Mission Critical, but if you have a laptop, a beverage, and a snack, you can work that with only one regulation-sized coffee shop table.

Spend money. One cup of coffee is my ticket to work for maybe an hour, and I kind of feel like that's pushing it a little. (Yes, even if it's fancy.) Coffee shops are affected by turnover, too; if, for example, you are not going to the cafe to work, and you know that it will be full of people not getting up from their work and there will not be a seat, you will probably choose a different shop. That coffee shop just lost business due to low turnover of tables. When I'm working, I try to buy things at least once an hour to justify my time there. If I'm getting refills, I add snacks or switch up my drink.

Tip well. Even if I'm spending money periodically, I'm still probably not spending as much as the table could earn were it open to many people, or groups of people, who might sit for just fifteen or twenty minutes (unless your cafe of choice is just totally dead). Tipping well keeps the baristas from giving me the side-eye.

I also take the baristas treats sometimes. I've taken cookies and soup (uh, not at the same time) to the baristas at my "office."

Be cognizant of rush hour. High volume times = more seats needed and more opportunities for table turnover. I don't like going during rush hour anyway because it's harder to find an outlet seat. Or any seat. I try to target off-peak times for maximum consideration.

Do you have personal rules for working in your "coffice"? (And also are you a little squigged out by how that sounds like "coffin"?)

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