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.

Working from a coffee shop

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.

Working from a coffee shop

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.

And I did find I felt very productive working from a coffee shop! I always manage to get a lot of writing done, whether that’s working on a brand collaboration or just writing some blog content.

Here are 9 helpful tips for when you want to work from a coffee shop:

Working 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.

Take breaks!

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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  1. I’m a bookseller, and our store also has a coffee shop. That coffee shop is like a hub of activity! Lots of people setting up to write, read, study, and meet up with friends. It’s great!

  2. I haven’t worked from a coffee shop before, but I believe it would help me be productive. However, there are no Starbucks in my city, and the closest coffee shop that I know has wifi is a 20 minute walk away! Anyways, these are great tips including getting there early! Also, my go-to order is a chai latte!

  3. I really enjoy working from coffee shops. I normally find a table first and put my water bottle on it while ordering a coffee so it’s there when I get back. I also tend to take my laptop to the toilet with me as I’m always afraid of asking anyone to watch it in case they think I’m weird, which I know is silly.


    1. Putting your water bottle to secure your table is a good idea! I usually find a table near the till so I’ll leave my laptop when going to the toilet as I know nobody is going to do anything to it in front of the staff!

  4. i love writing at coffee shops. i love people watching & having a change of scenery. i remember seeing people do these in movies and thought it would be a fun way to romanticize my life. haha!

  5. I love the idea of this, but I fear I’d get nothing done. Either too self conscious about how strange I look (my concentration faces can be quite odd) or far too distracted!
    Excellent read though and definitely a lot to consider if I ever take the plunge and try and write outside of my home.

  6. I’ve always loved the idea of working in coffee shops but the reality was a lot different. I did it a few times in my old job and I found it frustrating when I needed the toilet or another drink and it just felt like a faff. I’m much more relaxed at home so that suits me better!

    Corinne x

  7. My go to order is a black coffee, banana bread and a bottle of still water. Love all your tips, headphones are definitely a must I would say 😉

  8. I remember reading at coffee shops back in my undergrad days. I used to pick a Starbucks or small shop in a completely random neighborhood on purpose to avoid seeing anyone I know. It was the best!

  9. I completely agree with everything you’ve said here! I’ve only recently started studying in coffee shops, but it has helped me so much, and in more ways than just caffeine!

  10. It’s been a while since I tried working in a coffee shop but it didn’t go well as I got too distracted by other people 🙁 And I had to work from a client’s office a few weeks ago for a couple of days and OMG I was SO unproductive there too. Love your tips (especially about buying something not just using their WIFI) but I think I’m a hermit and do my best work at home! x

    1. Ah fair enough. The coffee shop effect doesn’t affect you then 😂 I just don’t really care what other people are doing. HOWEVER, if someone brings a dog in, then I’m in trouble.

  11. Ohhh-huuu… I miss doing work at coffee shop. I need to go to coffee shops again to do my work. It is so fun doing work while enjoying coffee and music at the same time.

  12. Working in a coffee shop, I can’t find all the noises from our machines & other humans can help 😅 Imean, definately better around suppertime when there’s barely anyone.. i’m getting overwhelmed at people noise quite often lately.. although i’ve heard from coworkers using the point that there might be less distractions, as you only bring what you need with you with a specific mindset & etc.

  13. These are such great tips to have a productive day in a coffee shop! I love your ideas! Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. I’ve never worked from a coffee shop before, but it seems like a refreshing change from being stuck at home. I agree headphones are a must, especially noise canceling ones!

  15. I’ve never worked from a coffee shop before but you’re convincing me to give it a try! Working from home has been lonely and I feel like a change of scenery and being around other people could definitely help. Thanks for your tips!

  16. I’ve never worked from a coffee shop before, and I feel like I would get easily distracted by what’s going on around me. The food and drink is definitely an attraction though!

  17. Great post! I love to work from a coffee shop, especially when I know I need to be more productive. Thank you for sharing these ideas, it’s a great idea to get everything set up and ready before you get started x

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