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Home Offices vs Coffee Shops

Updated on February 13, 2017
Business has gone to the mall or online, so buildings are converted into condos.
Business has gone to the mall or online, so buildings are converted into condos. | Source
Coffee shops, the new office.
Coffee shops, the new office. | Source

Coffee Shop Offices

People who work out of Tim Horton’s, Second Cup or Starbucks have their reasons. Maybe they have their own business, after they were laid off or cannot genuinely afford to rent an office.

Companies that invested in building office blocks are having problems paying back bank loans because of dwindling tenants.

Most office towers were built with certain tenants in mind. Oil in Dubai’s case.

Alberta, a Canadian province, also built tower blocks to cater mainly for oil tenants, but the drop in oil price means less profits. When business is bad, companies start trimming staff. Less workers means fewer offices to rent.

It will be interesting to do research about people who use coffee shops as offices. Why do they prefer the cyber office to a traditional office?

Technology and Coffee Shop Offices

Coffee shops displaced an earlier trend, the home office. There were reasons for it, and we spent a lot of money renovating unused rooms to accommodate scanners, photocopying and fax machines. Women also had a space for the baby's crib.

Small children used to sit on their parents’ laps. Not anymore. There is no room because computers called laptops have hijacked that space.

Laptops are wanted offenders. They have displaced not only kids, but many items in the home office as well. That big desk and leather chair are feeling the cold breeze because some people have moved their offices to restaurants and coffee shops like Second Cup or Starbucks.

Writers for content farms such as Helium Publishing, which went out of business on 15 December 2014, used to post articles about turning rooms into home offices, very popular content some time back. Home offices used to be popular for a variety of reasons.

Reasons for Home Offices

  • Parents can work from home and take care of their kids and pets at the same time.

  • There is no bumper to bumper traffic and road construction to worry about.

  • There are no headaches about what to wear.

  • There are tax advantages to working from home in Australia, Canada, the U.S. or Europe, which allows your accountant to claim certain expenses.

You can deduct expenses you paid in 2014 for the employment use of a work space in your home, as long as you meet one of the following conditions:

  • The work space is where you mainly (more than 50% of the time) do your work.
  • You use the workspace only to earn your employment income. You also have to use it on a regular and continuous basis for meeting clients, customers, or other people in the course of your employment duties. Source: Canada Revenue Agency website.

Some people had such beautiful home offices, they couldn’t wait to go home to work. Laptops and the internet have changed all that. The office is in your pocket or the trunk of your car.

Home Office Equipment

  1. Desk and chair

  2. Printer, which could be a combination of printer and fax

  3. Photocopying machine, which can also have more than one function

  4. Printer stand if the desk was not big enough for computer and printer

  5. Filing cabinets

  6. Cable modem

The desk

The desk is arguably the laptop’s biggest victim. There are millions of people who still use their home offices, because they feel that they can only work seriously at their desks, not restaurants and coffee shops. Graphic artists for example. They have 25 inch monitors on their desks so that they can see clearly what they are designing.

There are also others who decided to scale down the home office, or renovated it for another use for example, a home gym or yoga room. Getting rid of the desk is the first item on the agenda, if they mostly use the laptop cart.

The big question is, what are we going to do with the desk? We cannot cut it up and use it as fuel for the summer barbeque. We might be accused of treason or something.

Redundant Home Office Equipment
New Techonology
Desks sit in one place.
Laptops, mobile phones, iPads etc. make it possible to work in the park, coffee shops, banks, sports stadiums, almost everywhere
Desktop computers and business delays
Laptops and digital devices enable you to respond faster
Fax machines
Documents sent to many people simultaneously. You don’t need five fax numbers.
Documents sent as attachments
Mobile phones, you can take or make a call anywhere.
Home office answering machines
Receive and send text messages and voice mail anywhere, 'chat' with clients
Second hand stores like Goodwill are graveyards for technology victims like desks.
Second hand stores like Goodwill are graveyards for technology victims like desks. | Source


Storage. That is another aspect of the home office. You have nooks and crannies where you keep school reports, salary print-outs from human resources at work, all kinds of bills, bank statements, mortgage payments, information about your rental properties and many other things.

The desk can be regarded as storage if you no longer use it. It has drawers and has space underneath where you used to stretch your legs and admire the first draft of your book. You can install shelves and use it as a shoe rack.

The top of the desk can also be used for storage however, this storage must be hidden from public view. Think of your bedroom closets, which hide certain things.

You can also come up with clever ideas of how you can build an enclosure around your old desk, so that you can use it as space for bath towels, books or heavy sweaters. We can call it a desk closet. That is when you will call a carpenter.

Carpenters design space.  Stores are nothing but big warehouses divided into sections.  The top of your desk can be used for storage.
Carpenters design space. Stores are nothing but big warehouses divided into sections. The top of your desk can be used for storage. | Source


If I was in charge of the English language, I would define carpentry as a system of hiding things behind closed doors, cupboard doors and bedroom doors but that would be too restrictive because we cannot have a roof without wooden beams. Wood is important in many industries not just construction and cabinet making.

The easiest thing to do will be to sell your desk, but there will be few takers because people now live in smaller spaces, as compared to say, 30 years ago and they also have laptops. Maybe you have some sentimental attachment to your desk, and you don’t want to part with it.

Changing your home office completely or dividing it into two utility rooms will definitely need the services of a carpenter.

The carpenter and Your Desk

  1. It won’t be difficult to find a registered carpenter in your area.

  2. He must look at the desk and make suggestions of how he can cover it, you know. Whatever he builds around, or on top of it must have a door because you want a closed storage space.

  3. Tell him that you want to maximise the storage potential of the top of the desk, where you used to put your old computer hard drive, monitor, printer, fax etc.

  4. Decide on the wood you want, or wood finish.

Depending on your desk, the carpenter can install shelves on top of the desk that you can use for sweaters, scarves, and gym clothes. It will be a lot of space because it will be going upwards. Shelves are important because it will be easy to find stuff.

If you feel that you don't need a carpenter, you can use dividers to hide that big oak desk you no longer use, because the computer is always on your lap.

CityTv, a Canadian media company has some ideas.

Arrivederci home office!


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