The digital nomad rules: 10 ways to be a better remote worker

MacBook laptop and cup of coffee

I made the move to being 100% self-employed recently – you can read more about this here – but I’m not new to the world of remote work. In fact, I’ve been a digital nomad and coffee-shop office (coffice) worker since 2015, spending my days working from whichever establishment has the best Wi-Fi, the tastiest beverages and the least number of hyperactive toddlers.

I’ve worked from local coffee shops in Hertford, I’ve written blogs from cafes in Sydney, I’ve designed infographics while sat in London’s King’s Cross station and I’ve sat by the river in Bristol, working on web content – so I know the nomadic lifestyle.

And over these past two years of being a fully-fledged digital nomad, I’ve picked up a few bits and bobs of coffice worker etiquette – little things that make being a laptop warrior easier for you, and also take into consideration the feelings of those around you for whom this coffee shop is… well, a coffee shop!

So, in the interests of sharing a bit of helpful advice for the digital masses, here are my ‘Digital Nomad Rules’ – 10 ways to be a more considerate remote worker.

1. Show some consideration

Be considerate of others, this coffee shop may be your office but it’s not solely your space. It’s a social hub, generally for people who *aren’t* working, so always bear this in mind. Noise and chatter is part and parcel of the coffice life, so learn to live with it – or get some really good noise-cancelling headphones and a Spotify subscription.

2. Don’t be a socket hog

Share the power points in the coffice and let others charge up. We’re all dependent on having enough juice in the laptop battery to get our work done, so don’t be a socket hog! If you see someone searching for power, offer to move so they can plug in – you’d want them to do the same for you, wouldn’t you?

3. Help others be safe and secure

Keep an eye on other digital nomad’s gear and laptops when they go off to buy drinks, or visit the bathroom. They’ll do the same for you and it becomes a really helpful and mutual way of improving the security of your precious MacBook/Surface Pro/Chromebook.

4. Don’t be the noisy nomad

Use headphones when you’re having calls on Skype/Facetime/Google Hangouts/Zoom etc. Think about the volume of your voice and don’t shout – just have a normal conversation, like everyone else in this coffee shop. And if anyone challenges you (this has actually happened to me) remind them that this is a public space and not their front room – conversations through a digital medium are as valid as face-to-face ones in 2017.

5. Move around: be nomadic

When you have the option, try to vary your choice of work location or coffee shop to keep things fresh, avoid boredom and give some structure to your day. Try one coffice in the morning, one for lunch and one in the afternoon. It gets you off your behind and also helps to spread your money around a variety of local enterprises.

6. Go independent, where possible

Choose independent businesses, if you have a choice. Small local businesses need your money more than huge international chains who think you’re ideal coffee should involve glitter and unicorns (you know who I’m talking about)… and in your average independent cafe, the coffee will generally be far superior to those in the chains.

7. Pay your way

Buy enough coffee/tea/drinks/food to justify using that cafe or coffee shop table. This coffee shop is trying to run a business and make a profit, so don’t buy one mug of tea and expect to sit there all day on your laptop. You’re taking up valuable space where two, three or four people could be sitting: so make sure you’re spending and helping them increase their revenue.

8. Get connected

Be friendly and make connections. Get to know the other digital nomads who are regularly at your coffice of choice. Introduce yourself, bond over common coffice issues and try to help each other out. Building a digital nomad network can really be a valuable business bonus when you’re looking for advice, new clients, tips on business issues or just someone to have a natter with.

9. Be healthy

Think about your health and make sure you get some exercise and eat healthily – sitting down all day is not a recipe for a healthy lifestyle. I’ve written more about being a healthy remote worker here, but in a nutshell it’s about making time to walk, run, do exercise… and not surviving solely on chocolate muffins for lunch 😉

10. Take a break

Take regular breaks to refresh your mind, have a chat and bring some new input into your brain. The human brain can only concentrate fully for 90-minute periods, so get some work done, set a target and then take a break when you achieve that goal.

Follow the 10 Digital Nomad Rules

Using a MacBook

Ultimately, enjoy what you do and make the most of the freedom and flexibility you have as a digital nomad – by applying these ten ‘Digital Nomad Rules’ I think you’ll make your coffee shop time a lot more productive and pleasant, both for you and everyone else in the coffice.

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