Coffee Shop Etiquette

BreakingModern — Remote working is here to stay, and that means coffee shop culture will continue to change. Things haven’t always been easy between digital nomads, coffee shop owners and their other customers. In fact, people conducting remote work from coffee shops got themselves a bad name for selfish behavior, to the extent that some cafes have decided to ban laptops altogether.

But there’s no reason why all parties can’t happily coexist. The point of all cafés is to provide a nice environment for customers to eat and drink. Making a decent profit is important too. It’s not their job to provide freeloaders with office space — bear in mind the point of view of the baristas and owners, and, if you’re a remote worker, follow the rules of coffee shop etiquette. If you do, you won’t go wrong.

coffee shop etiquette

The Rules

Buy a drink every hour or so, and food at lunchtime. Don’t stay longer than three hours, and not that long if it’s busy. Share these habits with several cafés in your area, never taking too much time and space from one, and you’ll make sure you’re popular in them all.

Take cell phone calls outside, or at least use headphones and keep your voice down. Nobody wants to hear, as I once did, how you can only work “with board level buy-in,” the number of capital cities you’re flying to in the next week or how astoundingly large your contracts are.

Don’t hog the bandwidth. No downloading large files or streaming movies.

Try to charge up before you go out. This way you’re not hogging the outlets.

Limit the space you take up, so you don’t deprive potential customers of a space and the café of business. Don’t spread your stuff over a table for four or take up extra chairs with backpacks and paperwork.

Be nice to the staff. Don’t mouth or gesticulate at them when you’re in the middle of a call, and say please and thank you, however busy or stressed you are. Ask them about their day, the food and beverages they offer, try something different and give them constructive feedback. The nicer you are to them, the nicer they will be right back. You are a customer, after all.

coffee shop etiquette

Don’t expect busy staff to keep an eye on your stuff if you need to go to the bathroom. Ask a fellow customer who’s not on the point of leaving, and be ready to return the favor.

It’s tough competing with the giants, so support the independents by giving a little back in return for their free Wi-Fi. Tweet or post about where you are, recommend the specials and Instagram the fabulous latte art.

Never smuggle in your own food and drinks! This practice may be more understandable in the case of large chains (even then, not very considerate), but the owner of a small seven tables coffee shop in my local town told me he has actually experienced this, hard as it is to believe.

Recommend your favorite coffee shop to friends and colleagues and invite them there for meetings or to work together. These shops are allowing you to do business, so you can think (a little) about increasing theirs.

Being the perfect remote working customer means being aware. If you notice the baristas in your favorite shops are having trouble with difficult customers, who outright ignore coffee shop etiquette, download and print out the WorkSnug Coffee Shop Code of Conduct and ask if you can display it on the counter or tables.

WorkSnug is an app — available for Android on Google Play and Apple iOS — that connects digital nomads with the nearest and best places to work. The company asked members of its worldwide community to submit and vote for these rules to be included in the Code. Over 6,000 votes were received, which indicates that digital nomads are a pretty decent bunch after all.

For BMod, I’m .

First/Featured Image: © katie_martynova / Dollar Photo Club

Second Image: © Monkey Business / Dollar Photo Club

Judy Heminsley

Author: Judy Heminsley

Judy Heminsley is the founder of Work from Home Wisdom, a blog providing advice and inspiration for freelancers and home workers that is regularly featured in the UK national press. She is the author of Work from Home (How To Books), and writes on a variety of topics on her lifestyle blog All Things Bright & Good.

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