Opinion

Why Work Out Of A Cafe?

— Global


Preface
Why is it people work of our cafes and other places on their laptop? Is it just a yuppy, hipster thing? Nope. Here are some reasons why people do it.

Writer
Paul Goodsell

Illustrations
Jack Torcello

Photography
Paul Holmes

Location
Global


Asked why she likes to spend time working on her laptop in cafes, Sydney-based digital marketing specialist, Rachel Beaney tells me it’s a creative way to meet deadlines. "I have an hour to finish a project because either my laptop battery will run out or I need to order a second coffee!" But that’s not all: "People think differently in different environments - it's a good way to generate new ideas [exposing yourself to a change of scenery]".

To be sure, there are a plethora of reasons thousands of freelancers, digital nomads, entrepreneurs, professionals, and every other worker in between descend on places like cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, and libraries to get work done. Either with a laptop, notepad, or client in tow.

It's not a new thing. In the 1920s, the great writer, Ernest Hemingway was affected so much by the cafe culture of Paris, that his favourites - notable Les Deux Magot - became characters in his famous title, A Moveable Feast. Indeed, it was endemic at the time for the city’s literary and intellectual elite - think Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Pablo Picasso - to hole up in these bustling places of great culinary and alcoholic repute, to read and write and perfect their arts.

"The people that I liked and had not met went to the big cafes because they were lost in them and no one noticed them and they could be alone in them and be together.


Line drawing by Jack Torcello of Les Deux Margots where Hemingway use to write

Les Deux Margots in Paris. If those walls could talk. Image: Jack Torcello.


This idea affects people of today, especially in the creative fields. Not only does working out of cafes and restaurants have practical appeal, it’s a source of inspiration. Surely, one’s inspiration working in the same four-walled office for a time would become all but exhausted. But then, as business consultant Lisa Brincat puts it, "cafes have cake!" which, in my view, is plenty of reason to pop the laptop in the bag and seek out a 'change of scenery'.

Let's go over some of the reasons why people like to work on their business in cafes - other than to look like Hemingway or the promise of cake!

Change of Scenery


Being cooped up in the same space with the same blotchy wall behind your screen does nothing to stimulate your creative juices. Even if you don't consider your profess 'creative', exposing yourself to different sounds, sights, and smells can be just what you need to get thinking differently. For some, the prospect of working out of a noisy cafe is thwart with distraction. Noise cancelling headphones can help, but sure, it’s not for everyone.

When I freelanced, I'd spend at least an hour a day working somewhere different - a local cafe, pub, library, park, anywhere. In fact, if the weather was particularly nice I’d hop on the train and head for Belair National Park for a hike; emailing away as the train charged toward me toward my afternoon treat.

Companion Coffee in Kreuzberg Berlin. It has free WiFi and is suitable for freelancers.

Companion Coffee in Kreuzberg, Berlin. As you can see, it's popular with the Macbook brigade.


Every Friday, though, was out-of-the-home-office-day. I'd start with a coffee at Pollen, take lunch and another coffee at Sad Cafe in the city, then finish off with a beer or two at the Exeter Hotel. Then it was off to after work drinks with my non-freelancer friends, in their suits and Friday smart casuals. Poor sods.

Get Away From Distractions


If you work in a home office I'm sure you'll agree it can be distraction central. The cat choosing your keyboard as the ideal place to sun herself. That neighbour who fires up the leaf blower, without fail, at 10am everyday. The renovation work across the road that seems like it'll never end - what are they building, a bloody bunker? Oh, and barking dogs!

Even if you work in your own office or a co-working space the distractions can be rife. Ringing phones, loud-mouth colleagues, constant disruptions.

Stepping out for a bit can be a great way to shed all of those annoying distractions and get some work done. Or, you could do what Kate Toon did and build a hut (erm, I mean "Toon Cave") in your backyard!

Optimise Your Time Between Meetings


Ever found yourself in town for an afternoon of meetings with weird gaps in your schedule? What are you to do with that 45 minutes before the next? Find a cafe with free WiFi and maybe some power points and catch up on those emails and recharge your laptop and phone. 

Great opportunity to grab a drink 'n' bite, too.

Accountability


I hadn't thought of this before but it's completely valid - working somewhere public encourages you to procrastinate less and get work done. According to digital consultant Monique Clark she watches less stupid YouTube videos if she's working in a cafe.

If you're on display you want to look like you're doing something important and worthwhile, right? Which makes it hard for us social media types - it must look like we just sit on Facebook and Twitter all day. We're doing important work, honest!

Overcome Loneliness


Sounds a bit soppy, doesn't it? But this was one of the key reasons I started to spend more time working away from my home office. Being stuck at home all day, just me and the cat, got rather lonely at times. I needed people. Just for them to be there. So I could hear them. And to have a chat to a familiar face from time to time.

To Make Sure You Eat Something


Ever had one of those work days where time just sails by and before you know it it’s 6pm and you have a pain in your gut because you haven’t eaten?

If you're working out of a cafe or restaurant you're obliged to buy something. (Keep an eye on this blog as I want to write something soon about 'coffice' etiquette.) The longer you take up a table the more you have to buy. If you’re going to spend a couple of hours at a place a couple of coffees and some lunch is probably a good deal.

**

Got anything to add? Why do you work on your laptop out of cafes? Tweet us @worcere or comment on Facebook

Opinion

Why Work Out Of A Cafe?

— Global


Preface
Why is it people work of our cafes and other places on their laptop? Is it just a yuppy, hipster thing? Nope. Here are some reasons why people do it.

Writer
Paul Goodsell

Illustrations
Jack Torcello

Photography
Paul Holmes

Location
Global