Guidelines for nomad workers in coffee shops

Coworking Coffee's Guide to Coffee Shop Etiquette

One of the best things about nowadays is the ability to work from anywhere. And for different reasons, many of us often choose to make coffee shops our office of choice for the day. Whether it is the cozy atmosphere, the food, the feeling of being around other people, the coffee or simply the only solution around, we all have our reasons for working out of coffee shops.

And while it is amazing to be able to work everyday from your favourite local café while your friends are stuck at the office, it can be easy to get a little too comfortable. Here is a handy list that we here at CoWorking.Coffee have put together, of just a few things courtesy-wise to keep in mind when working from coffee shops around the world.



Business phone calls are your call

Is it acceptable to talk on the phone in a café? This is a tough question, and one that divides opinion among coffee shop enthusiasts everywhere. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but here is our take: In general, you should decide whether or not to talk on the phone based on the noise level of the café. If it is like a library in there and you could hear a pin drop, then take your calls outside. If there’s a decent level noise in the café and you don't think your call will disrupt anyone, then go ahead, just try to keep the call short and your voice low.
If the café is packed full of people and it’s noisier than a nightclub, then go ahead and be as loud as you like on the phone, because no one's going to hear you anyway.

The bottom line is: use your common sense to make an informed decision based on your surroundings.


Be respectful of the shared internet

While many coffee shops around the world don't allow customers to download torrents, many others still do. In much of Asia, for example, torrents will be blocked from communal wifi networks in cafés, coworking spaces, and the like. Coffee shops in North America, on the other hand, don't seem to have caught on to this just yet. Still, even if it is possible, as a courtesy to your fellow patrons in the coffee shop, please don't take up all the bandwidth downloading the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Downloading torrents, or even direct downloading large files, slows down the internet for everyone and takes away from people's enjoyment and productivity.

Just remember that the Wifi is a shared resource that everyone has the same right of access to.

Stay away from streaming movies and TV shows as well

This is similar to the above. Go ahead and watch Youtube videos or short clips, but try to stay away from streaming long videos, especially in HD. This takes up bandwidth that should be shared evenly between all of the patrons at a coffee shop. What's more, if there is limited bandwidth, then your movie or show probably won't stream that well anyway, so it is not even worth it in the first place.

Keep your Internet browsing "safe for work"

For 99% of people this one is obvious, yet somehow coffee shops all around the world still have problems with people visiting "adult" websites. This should be common sense, but please just remember that a coffee shop is a public place, and the content on your computer screen should be appropriate for anyone who might walk past and see it.




Be respectful of the limited space

Again, use your judgment depending on how busy the coffee shop is, but in general try not to take up more than "one person's worth" of space. If you are the only one there, then obviously it's no problem, but if it is getting crowded then be respectful of everyone's need for space and try to make room. If you have a bag lying on the ground, make sure it is not in the way of people who are walking by (you don't want your bag getting stepped on anyway). We all know that guy who takes up enough space for three people, with jacket on one chair, feet on another, spreading himself out like he owns the place. Don’t be that guy.

If it's really crowded, be open to sharing your table

Sometimes at those super busy times, there is not enough room for even one extra person in a coffee shop. In this situation, as a nice gesture you can let someone else share your table if they ask. Who knows, you might even make a new friend in the process. This especially applies if you are sitting by yourself at a table with space for two or more people.


Don't skimp on buying food and drinks

Some coffee shops have strict rules where they require you to spend a certain amount of money in order to stay for a certain amount of time, but most don't. That being said, you should still aim to buy something every 2-4 hours. This applies more so if your coffee shop is a small "mom and pop" local business, because they are trying to make a living just like you.

Check if tipping is appropriate (and if it is, tip)

The rules for tipping are different all around the world, but all it takes is a quick Google search to find out whether or not it’s appropriate to tip in your location. If it is, be sure to leave a little something extra for your hard-working barista.



That's all from us for now!

If you have any thoughts or suggestions for what else makes good coffee shop etiquette, be sure to contact us via the feedback form.