Is it feasible to use your local coffee shop as an office?

You always hear stories about cool indie developers getting together with their buddies and working from coffee shops. I work at home but have always thought it might be fun to get out and try working from some other locations from time to time. Can a coffee shop double as an office and is it a cost effective way to work?

I opted to visit a local Starbucks. Before arriving I was concerned that sitting there for an entire day might be frowned upon by the staff. However, upon arriving it was immediately obvious that actually it’s not that uncommon. Several other people were already there busily working away on their laptops.

My next concern was how much money I would have to spend. Drinks in coffee houses can be expensive and the cakes are always very tempting. Would I feel under pressure to buy drinks constantly? Again my concerns were completely unfounded. The staff were relaxed and friendly, and there seemed to be no pressure to get me to spend. Over the course of almost an entire day I bought one large cup of tea and a large bottle of water. I did purchase my lunch but if you were working from an office you’d probably also incur lunch costs.

So the real question is really one of actual working conditions. Would it be too noisy and distracting? Would I have sufficient working space? The answers to these questions were somewhat mixed. I found the work space to be only just useable. The tables were small and round which left me with just enough mouse space. The air conditioning was slightly too strong for my taste and I did find it a little uncomfortable. The general ambient noise for the most part was fine and in no way distracting. However there were times when nearby conversations became a serious distraction but nothing that headphones couldn’t block out.

So all in all I actually really enjoyed my day in Starbucks. The ambience was, for the most part, nice and relaxing. In general it made a very welcome change from working at home all the time. The day in question was also a deadline day so I really had to get a lot of work done and I managed to do that. Working from a coffee shop really won’t always be appropriate but I’d happily recommend you give it a go from time-to-time, especially if you don’t have an office space to work from or just need a change to your daily routine.

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