Working from home can be a great alternative to working in an office. I think the pandemic proved that tenfold, with most people still able to do their every day jobs from home but at the same time, also spending less on commuting and food throughout the day and just generally having less stress to deal with in their work.
When you’re self-employed, chances are you’re going to be working remotely for most, if not all of the time. Working from home is great and even post-pandemic, a lot of people are still choosing this option for their work/life balance.
But like all methods of working, there will be some downsides to working solely from home. I’ve been working from home for quite a number of years and things like loneliness, lack of communication with others and feeling unmotivated are definitely things that have cropped up from time to time.
According to a study highlighted in this article, working in a coffee shop can increase focus and productivity.
Lots of people choose to work from coffee shops these days and you’ve likely seen people yourself, when you’ve popped into your favourite coffee shop, sitting there with their laptops open.
The “coffee shop effect” as it’s dubbed, has proven that background noise is a productivity boosting element which can make it one of the perfect places to work!
More research into this shows that background-noise-induced sensory signals can help the brain break out of a mental rut to see things from new perspectives, thus helping you feel more focused, sharper and more motivated to work.
So I didn’t personally know about any of these studies before I started working occasionally from coffee shops and I don’t work from a coffee shop *too* often but often enough to have recognized the benefits.
I like to go once a week if I can and it’s usually to my local Starbucks. I started visiting my local Starbucks once a week on my own to spend an hour reading my book and enjoying a drink but then I thought about perhaps taking my laptop with me.
I was a bit wary at first, having never worked from a coffee shop before but I quickly realised that a lot of people do this and nobody really cares what you’re doing anyway.
Here are 9 helpful tips for when you want to work from a coffee shop:
Make sure the coffee shop has WiFi
The last thing you want to do is carry your laptop all the way to a coffee shop to find that they don’t have WiFi. Most coffee shops will have WiFi – I know that Starbucks has a very reliable WiFi network – but it’s definitely worth finding out before you leave.
Get to the coffee shop early
Depending on what day you go, you might want to ensure you get there a bit earlier than normal. I usually go to Starbucks on a Sunday and by half past 10, it’s heaving with people. If I get there are 8:30am, then it’s fairly empty and I get my choice of table.
Choose your table wisely
A lot of coffee shops have community tables which plenty of outlets, which might be a good choice for you if you’re in work-mode. However, if you do want to sit at another table by yourself, that’s fine. But keep these two things in mind:
- If it’s just you alone, you don’t want to be hogging an entire table designed for 4 people
- Ensure your nearest outlet is close by, you can’t have your laptop charger trailing along the floor of a coffee shop as it’s unsafe for customers who might trip or disabled customers who might be using wheelchairs
Order your drinks / food before you set up
If you’re there at a reasonable time and it’s not too busy that you’re going to miss getting a table, then make sure you order your food and drinks before you set up your laptop. This way you can have a little nibble before you start working.
It’s also pretty rude to use a coffee shop without actually ordering anything to eat or drink, so make sure you do.
Take some headphones
Coffee shops get noisy, there’s no doubt about that, so if you’re easily distracted, take your headphones with you. Listening to music and drowning out the sound of people talking can be a good way to focus or you could listen to a podcast or relaxing music.
Despite the fact that the study suggests that background noise can actually boost focus and productivity, some people do work better when they switch off from their surroundings.
Don’t be scared to ask someone to watch your stuff
If you’re going to be in the coffee shop for some time, then chances are you might need a wee or want another drink whilst you’re there. Of course you should always be careful when you have valuable items out in the open but consider asking someone – perhaps a family or a couple sitting on the table next to you – to watch your stuff whilst you go and piddle!
Don’t worry about anyone else
Working from a coffee shop for the first time can definitely be a little daunting but like doing anything alone, it’s all about practice and building your confidence. Honestly, nobody cares – a valuable lesson I learned in 2022.
Just like if you were working at home, make sure you take breaks if you’re working from a coffee shop. You might want to switch off your screen for 10 minutes every now and again to give your eyes a rest or stand up and stretch if you feel comfortable doing so.
Be respectful and wary of other customers
Although you’re likely to be in a world of your own with your laptop and headphones on, it’s always worth being wary of other customers in the store. If you’re on a Zoom call, don’t speak too loud and don’t have your music too loud either.
If you’ve never worked from a coffee shop before but really want to, this is definitely the post for you! If you’re worried about going alone or what other people think – don’t be!
Working from a coffee shop can be a really lovely way to break up your day and also give you a change of scenery, which is especially important if you work from home.
If I’m stuck working in the same place for too long, it definitely doesn’t positively impact my work.
Do you like to work from a coffee shop? What’s your go-to order? Let me know!
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