Coffeehouses have long provided remote professionals like me with a cosy and caffeinated alternative to our cramped flats and homes, away from roommates or partners, dependent pets, and rowdy children. Despite the fact that the epidemic affected many businesses, mask regulations have been relaxed, limitations have been eliminated, and most states have resumed normal operations. Coffee is once again flowing — and not just to-go.
Before COVID, I was a regular at my local coffee shop, where – for less than $5 a day – I could sit down at the table I’d secretly designated as mine, slap on a pair of headphones, and dig into my work, oblivious to the flow around me.
One year and two vaccine shots later, I eagerly returned to my local coffee shop. But I suddenly felt self-conscious parking myself in one spot and working on my laptop all day. While local businesses are happy to see their customers returning, remote working has risen, and so semi-public space feels at a premium.
If there’s no explicit policy, what’s the etiquette? Am I spending enough money? No matter how much I spend, are they secretly irritated that I’m taking up valuable real estate and tithing their energy each time I plug in my laptop or charge my phone?
To answer these questions and more, I spoke with a handful of current and former baristas, as well as other regulars. If you’re similarly tempted to trade your home office for a table at the local cafe, here’s what you need to know.
At most establishments that primarily serve coffee, remote working is expected – and encouraged.
They’re relatively affordable, there’s WiFi, coffee, and a bathroom: all this – according to the free remote work hub, Remoters – makes coffeeshops a favored location for remote workers.
Amy L., 31, describes herself as “one of those people.” When the literary journal she was interning for lost its office space, the organization began setting up shop and working out of various local coffee shops, sometimes up to six hours at a time.
“Usually the staff at the places didn’t seem to mind but other patrons would get snippy,” said Amy.
“We have people who spend the entire day working on their computers,” said Luka Sanchez, 26, owner of Common Grounds Lounge Cafe in Jefferson Valley, New York.