As an entrepreneur who gets with the times, you want to organize everything for the best comfort of your employees and max profit of your business. You generate innovative ideas, create plans, and design a workspace that should inspire creative and efficient work.
But something goes wrong.
Fewer and fewer employees feel comfortable there. They don’t want to sit in your perfect office from 9 to 5; noisy colleagues drive them nuts, and all your rhetoric about missions and teamwork doesn’t inspire. As a result, business declines.
Why does it happen?
Chances are, you forget that three-quarters of the global workforce today are Millennials. More than that, members of Gen Z — those born between 1996 and 2010 — are knocking on your doors, too. Tech-savvy, self-expressive and rational, these workers focus on ambition and mindfulness. They don’t need a 9-to-5 office to stay productive and creative. They are fully mobile and willing to organize their time accordingly.
These employees work from coffee shops or co-working spaces because they know the most creative and promising business ideas strike there. For them, the most productive work happens there, accompanied by fewer distractions and better networking.
But what’s so magical and powerful about coffee shops? Here’s what entrepreneurs need to understand about using them for business benefits.
Why Let Employees (And You) Work From Coffee Shops?
There are three official and scientifically proven reasons:
- Coffee shops stimulate creativity and networking
- They provide fewer distractions (sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true!)
- They enhance productivity and more allow for efficient work
And here comes the proof.
No matter how well-designed and organized your office is, it’s easy to fall into unproductive routines there. The same can happen to your employees, destroying their creativity. Allowing yourself to change environment from time to time brings in new types of stimulation and inspiration.
One study by Ravi Mehta showed that ambient noise of around 70 decibels encourages creative thinking: It disrupts regular patterns, which allows us to dive into more abstract processes and leads to creativity. Such noise levels happen in — you guessed it — coffee shops! Another study by Luke Laverty confirms: White noise enhances creativity, while the constant interruptions in an office environment kill it.
By watching others work around you, you’ll be inspired to work yourself. In addition, networking is common if you’re talking with others to come up with new business ideas and find different perspectives on existing problems. Coffee shops are perfect for business meetings, as they promote an atmosphere of conversation on agreements.
Besides, as an entrepreneur, you’ll be supporting local businesses when you work from a coffee shop. By building community this way, you might even have their support when the time comes and you need it.
Another reason to work from coffee shops? They’re less distracting than offices. Officemates can interrupt you with both work and chat questions, which is not so good for productivity. In the coffee shop environment, you’ll get the benefit of anonymity with the opportunity for interaction whenever you need it.
In an article for Lifehacker, Kevin Purdy cites Conor Friedersdorf: “Coffee shops provide ‘Just Enough Distraction’ — more than a dead-quiet office, but not a rock concert’s worth. They also lift the mind from thinking it’s on a deadline (even if it is), and can often make work seem more fun.”
Finally, it’s easier to focus in coffee shops than in offices. More studies prove it: Surrounded by hard-working people, you start working harder and becoming more productive yourself. No matter whether you’re are a writer, an editor checking articles for plagiarism, a designer or a small business owner…when your neighbor in a coffee shop tries to cope with a difficult task, you start dealing with own tasks faster — even if you can’t see what’s on their computer screen.
How to Work From Coffee Shops for Better Results
All this proof is well and good, but you can’t just come to a coffee shop and expect your productivity to boost and all your business issues to disappear. To get the most out of the environment, you need to follow the rules. No matter how worker-friendly they might be, coffee shops are still public places. If you don’t want wear out your welcome, do this:
- Buy something every few hours: Coffee shops are businesses, so don’t expect a warm welcome if you’re just sipping a single cup throughout the day. Order enough to justify your time there. Cold brew is a good choice, especially if you’ll spend a whole day there — it’s 60% less acidic than typical coffee, and it stays fresh far longer.
- Share your table: Be proactive when you see a stranger who can’t find a place, and don’t make other customers ask for permission to sit down. Invite them! As long as you bring your headphones, you can still work in relative peace.
- Clean up after yourself: Again, this sounds so obvious. In addition to busing your dirty dishes after they’re empty, you should also try to keep your temporary workspace free of excess clutter. This will make both your barista and your fellow patrons feel comfortable and happy.
- Keep quiet: People come to coffee shops to work or enjoy their time, so the last thing they want to hear is your audio or video calls. In an ideal world, the best decision would be to avoid them; if it’s a must, either go outside or keep your voice down via headphones.
In addition to not being kicked out, you also need to feel comfortable when working at a coffee shop. To ensure your productivity doesn’t suffer, here’s list of must-haves:
- Worker-friendly coffee shop: Identify whether a chosen coffee shop meets your needs and welcomes workers. Are there other people with laptops? Is the music too loud for you? Do they have free outlets and fast enough Wi-Fi? If there’s something off about it, that’s a sign to take your work elsewhere.
- Laptop: Go to a coffee shop with a fully charged battery. By the time it’s out, you’ll know it’s time to take a break. After that, ensure there are outlets available that they don’t mind you using.
- Outlet: Before you plop yourself down and start digging in, check to make sure there’s an outlet near you if you’ll need it. Don’t lay your power cable across walkways — this is a surefire way to make yourself unwelcome, which will hurt your chances of getting anything done.
- Headphones: For creativity, listen to music that inspires or helps you focus. Make a list of songs you love, or choose from science-backed playlists that have the best impact on productivity. Even if you’re not listening to anything, headphones send the universal signal that you’re busy and not to be disturbed. For remote meetings, make sure your headphones have a built-in microphone. There’s nothing worse than competing with background noise on a call or conference.
- Placement: Choose a comfortable place for work. Sitting near the door, next to the cash register or right under the air conditioner might not help you focus, so try to avoid high-traffic areas and big temperature swings. Avoid posting up next to the speakers as well, unless that suits your personality.
With all their perks, coffee shops are great places for creative and productive work. You can easily avoid the common pitfalls simply by following the advice above. Oh, and one last thing: Be sure to tip your barista!
Lesley Vos is a seasoned web writer and content strategist from Chicago. She contributes to publications on business, advocates plagiarism-free content, can’t live without cappuccino, in love with foxes and travels, and dreams of publishing a non-fiction book one day. Feel free to say hi or follow on Twitter.