Leadership and Management

Café culture and the art of working on the move

The Right Questions - working in coffeeshops and cafes

Why freelancers and business travellers love cafés with good coffee and free Wi-Fi

For many people good coffee is a daily accompaniment to their work. For those working on the move – be they freelancers, the self-employed or people on business trips – finding free Wi-Fi hotspots and working from cafes is something of a fine art. Here are some of the ups and downs of working out of coffeehouses.

The advantages:

Work where you want, when you want

Working from cafés gives you real flexibility. It allows you to work near to wherever you need to be. For most people that means being able to work conveniently beyond home and the office. But some business people have taken this to an extreme, working remotely from almost any part of the globe, no matter what the time-zone, and combining the lifestyle they want with earning good money (read Tim Ferris’ The Four Hour Workweek). It is now possible to fund your world travels by working online rather than picking up casual jobs in bars and shops. It also provides the chance to earn a lot more and not have to put your career on hold while you move about.

The Right Questions - working on the move and business trips

Smart financial sense for small businesses

Even if you buy several drinks during the course of the day this expense is still likely to be a lot less than hiring your own office space. In major cities even co-working spaces do not come cheap and many small businesses – and especially freelancers – use cafés to work from as a way of reducing overheads.

Meeting interesting people

You may not have your own colleagues around but working on the move gives the opportunity to combat the loneliness of working alone. You can also meet new people, gain experience from outside your industry and even pick up business if you choose to be outgoing. To get the most out of this part of mobile working you do have to become comfortable with starting conversations. If you are self employed you should see this as a vital skill; being able to talk to others about what you do is essential if you want to win new business. So why not practise your small talk and elevator pitch in a relaxed atmosphere over a coffee! If you are stuck for how to start a conversation sit by any power socket in the coffee shop and you will soon meet another fellow worker.

The disadvantages:

A hot-desk is usually a small desk

If you are working on the move you cannot necessarily guarantee your own ‘desk’ and whatever space you get is likely to be limited. It is hard to lug around large screens, printers and other tools that you might require so you have to plan your work differently knowing that these things are not on tap. Batch your work so you have everything you need to do the tasks at hand; this will help you be more productive too.

The Right Questions - free WiFi and working on the move

Hit and miss connectivity

It is hard to get much done these days unless you can connect to the Internet. Finding reliable, fast and free Wi-Fi is getting easier but still requires some hunting around. Most of the large coffee and food chains now provide some sort of Wi-Fi provision so they provide a good back up if you cannot find a smaller, more interesting café to set up shop. There are also an increasing number of sites you can use to find good cafés with free Wi-Fi so you can get the Internet on the move.

The challenge of productivity

Working from home, especially if you do not have dedicated office space, is full of all sorts of distractions but working out of a café can also have its challenges. It takes a lot of self-discipline to get down to work on time if there is no boss checking the clock and it is easier to succumb to the temptation to surf the Internet rather than do what you need to do when you have no colleagues looking over your shoulder. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve at the beginning of each day. This is true in any workplace but you will especially need this focus if you want to be productive while working on the move.

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