“Why would anyone want to work at the Starbucks when they could work at home?”
This question was posed the other day and I wanted to try to answer it. You see, I work from home almost every day, but there have been times when my office really was a table at the local Starbucks – a quiet place I would go daily while my sitter sat with my young son in my home. And even now, especially when the weather is nice and I do not have conference calls, I will go over to the local Starbucks for a couple hours to get some serious writing done.
As I was thinking about this I realized it may not be obvious to others who might not see the benefits right away, I thought I would share my feelings:
1) Change of Scenery: When I work at home, (and the same is true when I worked in a traditional office), there are distractions. There is the post-its and the to-do notes, the other projects that need doing. At home there is my dog who likes to bark at anyone walking by, or the pile of laundry calling my name. While I am generally disciplined enough to ignore the things in my home office, when I need to buckle-down and “get-stuff-done,” I actually like going to a Starbucks, settling in with a handcrafted beverage and working.
2) Richard, James & Savannah: Richard, James and Savannah are baristas at my local Starbucks. They know my name. I know theirs. When I walk in, even when there is a long line, my drink is made and ready for me when I get to the counter. Richard always asks when my next book is coming out (I wrote the last one 12 years ago… and the new one may never come to pass, but he still asks). When you work remotely – and even when you are an introvert, like myself, it is nice to have someone recognize you, give you a little extra service, a smile and a short conversation. They are busy, I am busy. We share pleasantries and move on. But this little act of human interaction is very fulfilling and a nice break during the day.
3) Wifi: One of the most coveted things for a remote worker is free, unlimited, reliable Wifi. Starbucks always has great Wifi. So, if you need that change of scenery and can’t think of a good place to go – Starbucks is always a great default. Furthermore, there are times when you need to be online and you can’t be at your home office. Say, when your spouse is home sick (ick) or the exterminator is spraying your house (ick ick). Pack up that bag, and head over to a nice reliable hot-spot!
4) Coffee: I cannot stress this one enough. Sometimes you just need a good cup of coffee. OK… so not me, I drink tea, but I know people who like coffee a lot. And a lot of them like Starbucks coffee. And even if you are not like them, and are more like me (tea drinkers or coffee-non-likers), there is still that smell… coffee… It has been scientifically proven that just the smell of coffee stimulates the brain. Let that soak in. Have you ever watched zombies emerge from their bedrooms in the morning saying “coffee….” And then they stand around in their jammies just smelling the coffee as it percolates? (or drips… as more modern coffee does, but I still like that word: “percolates”.) Anyway, there is a reason for that zombie-to-human transformation around the coffee maker – and a stimulated brain is a more effective brain!
5) Available: Have you ever looked to see if a co-worker is “available” online? This is indicated by the chat window (usually lit up in green) or by the status on the email. As remote workers we are judged by the amount of time we are “available” online. When we are not available, our bosses and co-workers wonder if we are really working. Like it or not, in a traditional office we could surf the internet all day, buying things from Amazon and checking Facebook and as long as we looked busy when the boss walks by, we are good. But as a remote worker, we are scrutinized for output AND availability. And sometimes, we need to do something nice for ourselves… and still be “available.” Starbucks gives you a place to stay online, be available, and get some work done too.
Just think, there is a reason great books are written at coffee shops each year. For some, Starbucks is a place of inspiration, relaxation, and motivation. And while I focused on Starbucks for this conversation – I want to point out that there are many other places that have pseudo-solitude, friendly people and caffeine. Many people enjoy Panera Bread, or a mom-and-pop coffee shop. I see people happily typing away at keyboards in all sorts of places. But the point is, sometimes getting out of the regular routine is healthy. In fact – it is very healthy. It makes you more productive, focuses you on the task at hand, and if the added benefit is a lovely drink and a smile from another human being… working from an auxiliary remote location can be a very good thing for business.
Now go out and work.