I am a writer, which makes me my own boss. This is awesome, but also means that I have to work a lot harder to make money and remember to put on a bra every now and then. Don’t get me wrong, my home office is great. It’s just me and my computer, you don’t have to fight anyone over Songza, and there’s no real dress code.
On the other hand, my social skills just keep getting worse and worse, and I find myself having conversations with this really mean girl who lives in my head. Eventually, I start to envy people who work in a real office space, because they get to take lunch and sit next to actual human beings for eight hours.
When sitting at home alone trying to write while contemplating the meaning of life (READ: procrastinating) and stalking other people’s lives on Facebook and Instagram stop working, I usually decide the best plan is a change of scenery. A coffee shop can be a great place to go and work around other people. Then I feel like I have actual co-workers, a life beyond the one in my head, and a safe working space ALL for the price of a cup of coffee. Here are some easy steps to convert any coffee shop into your own personal office:
1. Put on clothes
It’s illegal to be naked or in underpants in a coffee shop (unlike when you’re working at your coffee table), so clock yourself in and put on some pants, dammit. Business attire optional. Comfy is key if you’re working. Sometimes dressing nicely can make you feel great while you work, so if you need to do that, go for it. Be sure to bring some layers if you’re going anywhere with a heavy AC. Scarves are highly recommended, and can also be used for a blanket to hide under if you’re feeling dramatic and want to simulate your house.
2. Make sure the coffee shop fits your personality
Here are three places you might want to consider for your next clock in:
Large Coffee Chain:
If you’re feeling down and want to feel rich, go with one of the big guys. Sometimes just holding a cup makes you feel successful and corporate. It’s the opposite of “Cheers,” nobody knows your name or cares what you’re doing. You can sit there for hours.
Hipster Local Place:
If you’re more of an edgy hipster, go to the local guy. The coffee probably isn’t consistent, but the space is super cool, which is what you’re paying for anyway. Everyone is probably wearing great hats and glasses, so if you hold meetings here people will think you’re cool. The food is likely expensive, but local and kind of healthy because there’s some fruit in it, which means zero calories.
YOU CAN HAVE AN OFFICE AND ORDER FRENCH FRIES AT THE SAME TIME!? SCORE!
3. Tip your baristas!
Even if you don’t buy something, take care of your baristas. They are the best, and even if you’re broke, tip them. Then they’ll turn a blind eye to you sitting there for 15 hours straight trying to hold a conference call via Skype. Trust me, there would be no office without them.
4. Make sure there’s wi-fi
Before you order anything, double check and make sure there’s wi-fi. If there isn’t, then you’ll need to go to another coffee shop, and buy ANOTHER coffee. This is probably outside of your profit margins and not great for your anxiety/caffeine problem.
5. Be near an outlet
If you’re going to be there for eight hour work day, you need to make sure your computer doesn’t die. There is nothing worse than finishing your play or article, and then losing half of it because your computer dies and won’t recover it. Outlets in coffee shops are worth their weight in gold, and you probably will have to fight for them.
If there aren’t any available when you first walk in, gauge your surroundings and try to figure out who is almost done. A telltale sign is if there is no computer in front of the person. If it’s a family or a couple on a date, they will likely leave soon so keep your eye on them, be super creepy, and watch every move. That way, you’ll be prepared to claim their table before they even move away and someone else snaps it up. BE READY! OUTLET BRAWL!
6. You never know what you might need, so bring your house
Take everything you think that you need, cram it into your backpack, and spread it all out on the table in order to claim your territory. 7 books, 4 pencils, tape, candy, 12 markers, 5 highlighters, 2 sweaters, your computer, a record player, posters, a bullhorn, a partridge in a pear tree—whatever you need to do your job, bring it. You may look like a crazy turtle with that huge thing on your back, but one day one of your new coffee-office buds will need to borrow something and will realize that you’re a secret hoarder genius. Who’s laughing at this turtle now!
7. Bring your phone charger
No office is complete without a cellphone, and there’s no way you can answer business calls with a dead phone. There’s etiquette to the in-public business call, and if it’s going to be long, maybe go outside the coffee shop for a little while. Other options include locking yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes to talk so that there’s no background noise. You should also always bring your charger because you’ll probably need to procrastinate every now and then, and you can burn through your battery life quite quickly playing Candy Crush and stalking people on Facebook.
8. Make friends
Talk to some of the people around you so that you can have a real life office experience! And because you will probably have to ask someone to watch your laptop while you go pee and you need to make sure you have allies for that.
Any coffee shop can be your office haven. Fire the mean girl who lives inside your head, be around some other human beings, and get cracking!
Got any other good tips on how to create a coffee shop version of The Office for yourself? Tweet @RachelResnik and @litdarling, or comment below!
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