Your favorite coffeehouse isn’t really your “second office.” It’s someone else’s actual business. Whether you’re using your favorite java joint as your makeshift office space — or just spending a few hours there to write a report — it’s important to adhere to these eight basic rules of etiquette.
- Feed the kitty. As in, buy something to eat or drink every two to three hours. The coffeehouse (even a corporate giant like Starbucks) covers the cost of utilities, rent, broadband internet, restroom supplies and cleaning, and more. If you don’t pay your share, the shop’s food and beverage prices may go up to compensate. Note: Don’t ever brown-bag it during meal hours; that’s just plain rude.
- Reduce your footprint. This isn’t your living room, so don’t cover a table for four with your laptop, briefcase, and papers. Leave space for other customers. Occupy just one chair and a small table, unless you’re meeting with someone.
- Share the power. If you need more than one electrical outlet (for your phone, tablet, laptop, etc.), bring a power strip. Share any empty sockets with other customers when the shop is busy.
- Use your inside voice. When you’re on the phone, be considerate: Keep your voice down. If you need to speak louder to drown out the sound of the espresso machine or other patrons, step outside. Always use earphones when listening to music or conferencing via Skype.
- Share the love. If you routinely work several hours a day from coffee shops, move around. Work in one shop today, another tomorrow, and so on. As friendly as you may be, most shop owners would rather not feel like you’re subletting their space (without paying rent).
- Be secure. It’s not anyone’s job to guard your belongings while you hit the restroom, so don’t ask a busy employee to “watch your stuff.” Instead, buy a laptop lock, take your valuables with you, or ask another customer if they’ll keep an eye on your gear while you take a break.
- Know your limits. Bandwidth limits, that is. Don’t download huge files or stream a Netflix movie over the coffee shop’s internet connection, because it may slow down access for other customers.
- Tip well. If you work often at a particular coffee shop, make a point of tipping the staff regularly, even if you only order drip coffee. They’ll notice — and will be more likely treat you like a favorite co-worker rather than a squatter.