As I write this post from a coffeeshop, feeling the gain and the pains of it, I felt like sharing what makes me say a Cafe is “Work Friendly”.
For instance, the one thing I want the most now is going to the washroom carelessly. But I wouldn’t leave my computer alone here, but if I pack and go, should I pay first? but then I’m coming back to the same table and — what if someone takes it? Etc. So, I hold my bladder. #ThinkingOutLoud
Let’s talk about it, but first. What makes cafes so special to work from?
Reasons vary. From affordability to that solid white noise which forces you to focus on whatever you’re doing and surprisingly helps you to be more productive. So it is that applications like Coffitivity came to life.
Here is a short summary of what we consider a Work Friendly Cafe: Top 8, in order of priority.
Good internet = oxygen.
Still I find some places bragging about FREE wifi. Please. Just. Don’t. We know it isn’t. It shouldn’t be, it isn’t free.
Let’s align the following: I like working here. I’m up to eat, drink and stay the whole day under a minimal consumption.
IF in exchange you care about giving me the one thing I need the most: good wifi. You must offer good wifi if you want to get a good working crowd.
I would rather know I am there for a minimal consumption than having those “one hour limitation” or shitty connection that drops anytime someone feels annoyed for the “one-latte-a-day” type of guys.
2. Plug points. Abundant PlugPoints.
That juice of life which enables your machine to perform or die when you most need it. #drama
Quite straight forward. Make sure there are plug points — at least one each table, in a ration of 1/4 people in your space — in the area destined for working. If you can offer more than that: you’re “da-boss”.
Go the extra mile: many cafe workers are digital nomads and, believe me, some people still don’t recognize that different countries have different plug points. These guys are used to hustle, but imagine how nice of you if you can offer the courtesy of having an universal adaptor behind your counter — which you can offer for free or rent for a minimal amount?
I’ll tell you what. Battery life has no price. You give it to me, I’ll tweet and share about it — to make everybody know how much you saved my life.
3. Comfortable chairs.
We don’t require Herman Millers state of art — but we do want more then benches. A nice chair where you can rest your back and sit for a couple of hours without feeling you gotta go for a massage.
There are even some wooden chairs which can be comfortable for 2–3 hours straight — so you don’t need to die hard, but.
If you offer something better. People might consume more. :)
4. Free Flow Water.
That’s it. Table water, if possible.
Don’t be stingy about it. Little investment = relevant satisfaction. Acknowledgement that “this place keeps me fully satisfied in (most of) my basic needs.
Starbucks forces me to buy Evian. Thanks but, no. I’ll bring my bottle.
5. Decent toilets
Another one from the basic needs.
These aren’t noticed sometimes — people won’t Instagram your toilet. Well, some people would.
Still, not offering a basic need have bad consequences. People will notice the negative, but not always the positives. You gotta have it.
Clean, nicely maintained, filled with all basics (working flush, paper, handwash) and — go the extra mile — smelling nicely. This will make people feel (even without noticing) that they’d be back.
Something they wouldn’t take for granted is what I’ll mention as a subtopic:
5.1. “Safe Washroom Time”.
Which means they can go to the toilet and leave their stuff in the table. You can be creative and solve it with mobile locker boxes (you can fabricate those) or laptop cables (like the ones Apple has in their stores).
Just giving you ideas. You can also have your staff and frequent users taking a look at your users stuff, but it’s a bigger risk to take.
6. Good Coffee
This requirement isn’t for all, but for some people — that if some people work from cafes, the value relies in the quality of coffee.
Still, here aren’t as many coffee lovers in Asia (yet) as in Latin America. On the other hand, offering Starbucks coffee to Brazilians hurts like offending their ancestors.
So don’t worry much for the coffee, but understand it as: find out what your user wants. Most of people just wanna sip something and choosing a cafe means eliminating the hassle of preparing it yourself.
7. Affordable + Abundant Food
Even if you charge me a minimal consumption a day, I would be back if you offer me good food — not the typical pastries and cheesecake options. I can’t eat that all day.
But if it’s to fancy, I won’t be able to afford it.
You better give just a few, simple but good options in the menu — which reduces costs and still offers quality — than a complicated, fancy thing.
Go the extra mile: give me healthy. Fresh food. Well — I am also happy with typical local food, but if I can sustain myself longer for eating well, yet light enough to keep working, I’ll see you as someone who doesn’t only care about filling my tummy, but also for my productivity after lunch time.
Good food is a win-win: you offer it, I am happy to buy it.
8. Cool People
The cherry on the top.
You can live without it, but, if you have cool people coming in, they will keep coming back to meet each other. They’ll talk about it and share on Instagram when they are there just because — it’s the place to be and meet people.
Coldly speaking, you may call it “free marketing”. Essentially speaking it’s about being a natural “community aggregator”.
Some places are just happening. You can’t tell why sometimes, but you just sit there for 10 minutes and you’ll either meet someone who’s doing some really cool stuff, or you’ll find a friend who often goes to the same cafe.
It’s a bit about location, design and — engineering serendipity. Some things you can’t control, but out of what you can, you should care about:
8.1. Know your crowd.
You can find it fancy to have a creative, youngish, tech crowd, which is in fashion — but it all depends on who is your native crowd, which is defined by location, interior design — and even by who you’re naturally driven to.
Geography matters. Surroundings, office buildings, activities — are you in a more residential or busy neighborhood? Who are the people hanging out during lunch time? Who do they want to meet? Cater to your crowd.
How does your interior design enables people to actually find who else is in the space? Means nothing that you get cool people in, but give them no chance to talk. Long tables, standing bars… But that’s a whole new topic.
People engineering is topic to a whole new write-up.
But all the above, in
Just one more thing…
Not every cafe wants to be working friendly. And that’s OK. That can be because they want people to 1) flow fast (come, chat and leave); or 2) connect for real (like they have that that hipster basket which says “drop your phone here”).
Or maybe that’s thanks to a bunch of us who don’t respect the “silent etiquette of the coffee-shop-worker”.
We should also have a list of the “Cafe Friendly Worker”. Like a “Don’t That Guy” list, including “stays the whole day and orders a Latte”.
Have something to add? Join the conversation.