Working Remotely from Coffee Shops
Leaving behind the daily commute and tedious 9–5 office job sounds amazing, but the novelty can wear off. Working from home can feel isolating and repetitive. Try working remotely from coffee shops to switch things up.
Low productivity when working from home
One of the biggest challenges I faced while working from home was maintaining the same level of productivity and motivation as working in an office. I found myself procrastinating. My mind often wandered into home matters; Laundry needs to be done, lunch needs to be made, you need to go shopping…the list is endless. And then there’s the looming kitchen that always seems to be calling you for some snacks.
Working from home isn’t always motivating, especially if you aren’t able to establish a strict routine. When in a buzzing environment, I feel less tempted to postpone tasks.
After a month or two, I discovered that working from home was not as simple as it sounded. I looked back at how focused I was in an office environment. I tried to introduce more structure into my routine, so I could focus my mind. Giving myself stricter timeframes felt more regimented than working in an office.
Feeling isolated is real
Some people are more social than others. For me working from home felt isolated. Working one or two days a week from home is very different to working every single day. There is a lack of physical human contact.
Work and life can become entangled. Working from home really means working 24/7. Establishing a strict routine is no easy task. You’ll find yourself answering emails, calls, or working on projects regardless of the time or day. It’s exhausting and it interferes with your home life. Even if your schedule allows for that sort of flexibility, prioritising something else in the morning or afternoon may push your work into the evening. Sometimes you just want to wind down with a book or in front of the TV, but can’t.
Office working is great for collaborating, especially when working on creative projects or when mind-mapping an idea. Even though new technologies exists, I believe you cannot beat a real, face-to-face interaction.
Why work from coffee shops?
After a period of self reflection, I decided things needed to change so I just went for it and switched everything up.
One of the things I looked very closely at was my environment. In Asia especially, I started noticing that coffee shops were being populated by remote workers. There was a real coffee shop working culture popping up, that I never noticed before.
I started reading blog posts from people who had successfully made the transition from home working in different locations, such as coffee shops and remote working spaces. I read about the challenges and the benefits. Why not do the same?
So I decided to take action and see if a change of environment would help focus my mind and improve my mental well-being.
Finding coffee shops to work in
Perhaps the biggest hurdle in embarking on working remotely from coffee shops was to find a suitable venue to work in. Having decided that I would try and work away from my home on Monday, I spent the weekend exploring different coffee shops within a 3 mile radius.
An important factor to consider in finding the right venue is the basic working tools you need to your job. For me, those are reliable WiFi and somewhere to plug in my laptop for power. Many coffee shops in Asia have plugs by nearly every table. Just buy a drink every 2 hours and utilise the space. The only requirements I needed were free and unlimited 3G/5G Internet access, power for my laptop, comfortable seating and enough people to create some noice but not enough to be a concert.
Lastly, I needed to find a location where I would feel welcomed. I shortlisted a handful of coffeeshops that matched the vibe I was going for. I found several that I liked the look off.
Switching things up
Every day of my week apart from Monday (Because thats my quiet day) was filled with 1 or two locations within a 3 mile radius of my home; sometimes I walked, sometime I caught a taxi or train.
The ambiences of each coffee shop was slightly different; Some filled with University students, other coffee shops filled with remote workers like myself. Soft music generally plays in the background.
After a while you start to notice other people with laptops regularly doing the same thing as you, Some people would stay hours in one location, and return several times a week. Not being the only remote worker with a laptop made me feel less of an oddball and put me at ease with getting down to work.
I currently split my workday up and jump to a few locations. It depends on the moment, but I’m generally more creative with changing environments.
This is my remote working packing list.
From the first morning I sat down to work , I felt a sense of clarity and focus that I had been missing locked away within the closing four walls of my home. I was able to plan out my day, and stick to the tasks I had decided to work on. I felt real accomplishment.
The atmosphere around me allowed me to stop daydreaming. The idea of coffee, water and snacks just a request away added to the overall experience and helped with the productivity. Having other people around me doing their own thing removed the feelings of isolation.
I usually stay at home on Monday’s and plan for the week. Working from coffee shops is probably not for everyone, but it works for me. Some people enjoy the isolation and the silence of working from home and it drives them to be more productive, we are all different.
Making this change and introducing coffee shop working as a regular part of my routine has not only improved my overall productivity and helped me to focus more on tasks at hand, but also had a very positive impact on my overall mental health. I recommend anyone with similar issues woking from home to at least try it. If you don’t like a situation change it.
Spend money in the coffee shop: If you spend hours working remotely from coffee shops you need to be purchasing food or drink. The least you can do is be a good customer.
I tend to arrive first thing in the morning and order my morning latte and croissant. As the morning progresses I may order another coffee’s and a few waters to keep me hydrated. I normally split my day up and jump to a different location for lunch. People start to remember you and you start to create relationships, I’ve always had a warm welcome when returning, I have also met a few remote workers such as myself, and have collaborated a few times!
Take calls in private. Be mindful of the other people around you who have almost certainly opted to be there for similar reasons.
Be friendly. Learn some names. I tend to tip the server, they remember me. Tipping can go a long way and it makes the server feel appreciated.
Keep hydrated. It helps cleanse the body and speed up the brain. I suggest using your own Travel Mug for Coffee or water, When giving up disposable cups, You reduce plastic waste, some coffee shops give discounts to customers who bring in their own cup.