Remote working has an image problem. There’s a perceived notion that being a teleworker means sitting at home in your pyjamas, tapping away at a laptop and not speaking to a soul for the whole of the working day.
But if you’re one of the growing number of coffee-shop workers, being remote can actually be a very social and community based way to earn a living.
As someone who works from a variety of different coffee shops, I can testify to the fact that being a remote worker doesn’t have to be a solitary and isolated occupation. In fact, I’ve met a lot of new people, made good contacts and created a working environment that’s every bit as productive as working from a conventional office.
So why is combining remote working and cafe culture such a beneficial way to work?
Here’s are 5 key reasons why being a coffee-shop worker is the best way to get more from your remote-working experience.
The rise of remote work and coffee-shop workers
Homeworking, where employees connect remotely to systems and cloud tools from their own homes, rose in popularity in the UK by over a fifth between 2005 and 2015. People love the fact there’s no time-consuming commute and the flexibility around what times of day you can work. But in 2017, the real shift is in those workers choosing to work not from home, but from the local coffee shop or cafe – we’re slowly become a nation of coffice (coffee shop office) workers!
80% of UK staff have worked from a coffee shop and 13% of those workers do it every day. And although the perception is that ‘working from the coffice’ is for freelancers and the self-employed only, there’s a growing number of corporate workers joining the trend – three in five workers from larger businesses also regularly work from their local coffee shop, and many bigger organisations are embracing the flexibility of this approach.
So why are we turning our back on the home office to head to the local cafe?
1. Sitting at home is both boring and distracting
You may have a study with a proper desk, or you may be working from the dining room table. But the fact remains that you’re still at home, in the same house you woke up in and surrounded by a multitude of domestic distractions, including:
- Laundry and washing up that needs doing
- Biscuits and crisps that need eating
- Daytime TV that needs watching
- Family members/loved ones/housemates to natter with.
If you have small children, then there’s the added issue of finding somewhere in the house that’s quiet to work and where you can’t hear the strains of the CBeebies theme tunes.
And, more than anything, sitting in your own home, looking at the same four walls every day can be – to not put too fine a point on it – exceptionally boring!
2. Going out to work provides structure
When I first started freelancing and became a remote worker, I made the conscious decision that I was going to go out to work. I didn’t want to stay at home (I had a two-year-old at the time) and I knew from prior homeworking experience how unproductive I’d be in my own house.
By deciding to go out and work from a local cafe, you immediately create an important distinction in your own mind around what is (and what isn’t) work time.
- Your coffice becomes your office – the coffee shop you choose becomes your place of work. In your head this is the location where you have your ‘work head’ on, in exactly the same way as if you were going to a company office.
- Your house becomes a home – you CAN do some work from home, of course. But, in the main, your house is not your place of work, psychologically. This is important, as it means you associate home with relaxing, turning off that work brain and spending time with family, friends or roomies.
Going out to work at the coffice at a set time each day, and coming home again at a set time, gives your working day some structure. Rather than sitting around in your PJs until 10am, doing a couple of emails and getting down to some serious tea-drinking, you actually proactively make yourself more focused, more efficient and more professional about your work.
3. Move around and add variety to your day
One element of the 9-5 that palls with most employees is being stuck in the exact same office building 5 days a week. And if you opt for homeworking, you don’t want your own house to become a similarly metaphorical prison during work hours.
Embracing the cafe lifestyle means you not only get out of the house, but can also move around and choose new coffee shops to work at. I usually go to two or three different establishments during the course of a working day, giving me a chance to stretch my legs, get a chance of scenery and refresh the old brain cells.
In a local community, it’s also good to frequent a number of different cafes, spreading your coffee money around the economy and keeping every coffee shop busy.
4. You meet new (and interesting) people
The perception of the homeworker is that you’re isolated and removed from the rest of humanity. But by going and sitting in busy coffee shops, it’s almost certain that you’ll bump into other remote workers, freelancers and laptop entrepreneurs sitting at nearby tables.
The 21st century coffee shop is very much a ‘suburban coworking space’ for the regular coffice worker. Through striking up conversations with like-minded laptop users, I’ve met a real variety of people – from start-up owners to business development people, web coders to public sector workers. Some are business owners, some are freelancers and some are corporate employees whose companies are happy for them to go the coffee shop route.
So, in contrast to the solitary life of the home worker, becoming a coffice regular is a brilliant way to stay sociable, meet new people and expand your business network.
5. As a regular, you become ‘one of the team’
I have a couple of cafes I visit more often than others – and you’ll probably find your own favourites after a few weeks of trying the coffice approach to working.
The advantage of a regular haunt is that the staff get to know you. You become one of the growing number of people they see tapping away at laptops in the corner, and as long as you’re buying enough food and drink, they seem to quite like you being there. They might even remember your name and have your favourite drink lined up before you’ve asked for one.
It’s not exactly the same as being part of a team or department in an office, but it does give you a certain sense of belonging to something and fitting into their little community. With homeworking being a potentially lonely role, being ‘one of the team’ feels good and provides potential for a chat and those ‘water cooler moments that make the working day more fun.
Head out to your local coffee shop
So, whether you’re a corporate employee who’s exploring remote working for the first time, or a freelancer looking to get away from working at home, getting yourself down to the nearest coffee shop is a great way to improve your working environment and make your day more sociable.
I’ve been living the coffice life for nearly three years now and, in all honesty, I don’t think I’d ever want to go back to an office-based 9-5 job. Once you’ve experienced the flexibility and variety of working remotely and cafe culture, it’s very hard to see why you’d go back.
So give the coffee-shop approach a try…it might be the best thing you ever try 😉