Why a Coffee Shop is a Good Work Hangout

Coffee and a croissant is a good way to start the day
Coffee and a croissant is a good way to start the day | Source

Best Selling Coffee Table Book

A Coffee shop is a good place to meet clients
A Coffee shop is a good place to meet clients | Source

Creative people need new ideas to be productive. If you are a writer, your surroundings are crucial to the success of your craft. If you are uncomfortable where you work, it’s difficult to write or create anything of substance.

The local coffee shop is a good place to hang out. In 2012, there were about 20,000 coffee shop businesses in the U.S.[1] College students and work at home businessmen and women like it. We see them all the time, working on their laptops, oblivious to others. Laptop users dominate many coffee shops. In fact nowadays, it's almost always difficult to sit down in a popular coffee shop because the ‘regulars’ take most of the seats.

Let's assume that the regulars obey etiquette rules concerning hanging out at a coffee shop. He buys coffee every hour. He buys pastry. He allows others to sit at his table when it’s crowded. When the shop goes into its busy period, he knows it's time to go home.

Considerate regulars understand that a coffee shop needs ongoing revenue to stay in business. At the same time, there are mitigating circumstances that cause us to go to our special coffee shop over and over again. There are those who abuse coffee shop etiquette. But for most of us, we enjoy the pleasant and welcoming atmosphere of our local shop.

When the establishment offers free Wi-Fi, it’s to encourage visitors to the store. It does not differentiate between the squatter and the visitor. A squatter takes and gives nothing back. A visitor buys from the store commensurate to his stay, and leaves after a reasonable amount of time.

Given all this, there are reasons why a coffee shop draws regular visitors:

Don't like Being Home Alone. Most of the time, the comfort and quiet of home is the best reason to have a work-at-home business. The quiet and serenity of working at home is why most entrepreneurs prefer this location. But at the same time, no one wants to be a home all the time. It’s why one would take a walk during work to change the atmosphere. Having another place to work and be creative helps a self-employed person.

It's Close to Home. There is a coffee shop on almost any main street. A local coffee shop is great if it’s a short walk from home.

Can Work Uninterrupted for Hours. This is a boon for the computer worker or college student. It’s the main reason why the coffee shop is so popular. Especially during off-peak hours, a coffee shop is a quiet place to work.

Interesting People Come In. Depending on the nature of the coffee shop, one can take creative inspiration from those who patronize. Mothers with babies or children in strollers, excited children laughing, college students wearing headphones, the elderly, and other writers are a few who purchase at these shops. Also, as you become a regular, you can be friendly with those other regulars to the shop.

Ideas Flow Better and Faster. A coffee shop can offer inspiration. Sometimes you need a different venue for your muse to emerge.

It’s a Good Location to Have Meetings. Some members of organizations like to have committee meetings at a coffee shop. The meetings introduce others to the coffee shop for future patronage.

It’s a Good Place to Bring Clients. If you have a work-at-home business, you will periodically need a place to meet clients. If you choose the right place, a coffee shop is a good location to network or have business meetings. Go to a quiet corner and meet with a client. Of course, you’ll pay for the coffee and muffins as a business expense, right?

The Coffee, Food, Pastry and Music are Good. It wouldn't be a good hangout if the coffee and snacks weren’t great. Add soft music in the background, and a coffee shop is a pleasurable place to work.

Some Solutions to Circumvent Coffee Shop Abusers

Naturally, those who take advantage of coffee shops, especially small ones, spoil it for other regulars. Writer Bruce Kennedy, in his July 2013 article, “Coffee Shops Look to Oust ‘Laptop Hobos’” on www.Money.msn.com, called it right. The article discusses in part, how Starbucks[2], Panera Bread and small coffee shop owners now restrict laptop customers from taking up valuable seats during peak service hours.

Selfish customers who patronize a coffee shop several times a week contribute to the financial end of the shop. They do this by parking in a seat all day on one or two cups of coffee. Then, paying customers stop frequenting because they have nowhere to sit. Coffee shop abusers need to acknowledge that they are using the shop’s electricity, are limiting the shop’s ability to serve new customers, and should stop taking unfair advantage.

Small business owners need to find creative ways to have a welcoming atmosphere without allowing thoughtless customers kill their business. Here are some suggestions of policies a coffee shop can use to encourage an inconsiderate person to be a better support to the shop.

  • Talk to the regulars and explain the situation, and mutually agree on terms of use
  • Insist that those who use tables purchase something at least every hour
  • Keep clearing the table. It will hopefully force the person to keep ordering something, because the table is clean
  • If they ask for water, sell bottled water to force a sale
  • Don’t offer Wi-Fi. It’s not necessary to using the computer; it only affects using the Internet. If business slows down because there’s no Internet, see the next suggestion
  • Have a time limit to taking up seats during peak periods, and depending on the size of the shop
  • Reserve and limit the number of seats laptop users can take up
  • Limit the number of electrical outlets available to the public, and don’t allow extension cords
  • Do not allow laptop users to take tables meant for four people

A small shop of 10-15 chairs needs regular turnover to survive, which means regular paying clientele. Negotiate with the laptop users and come to mutual terms of use. It should be a win-win situation that will not interfere with either’s rights. And, other customers will appreciate a shop’s attempt to make it available to all patrons, not just laptop users.

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[1] SIC Code: 5812, NAICS Code: 72221

[2] “Coffee Shops are Banning Laptops” – Businessinsider.com, Michael Thrasher, July 12, 2013

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3 comments

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 2 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

I see a lot of people buying a cup of coffee and sipping it for several hours just for the free WiFi.


Carolyn2008 profile image

Carolyn2008 2 years ago from Boston Author

This is why some small coffee shops are no longer providing WiFi.


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 13 months ago from Oklahoma

I love hanging out with friends at the coffee shop.

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