Schlepping into a traditional office, Monday through Friday, nine till five, is becoming less common as more people chose to telecommute. In fact, according to a report released last year by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, the number of people who spend at least half of their professional life telecommuting has increased by 115% since 2005. As more people start working outside of the office, cafes and coffee shops are filling with laptops, tablets, smart phones and people who prefer to work remotely but don’t want to be confined to a home office. And who can blame them? A café provides a pleasant atmosphere that forces you to get out of the house (and your pajamas).

If you work remotely, heading down the street to grab a coffee and take advantage of some free Wifi while you work can be very appealing. Just keep in mind that even outside of the office you are still responsible for representing yourself and your company. If you find yourself working from local eateries and coffee shops, there are two rules that you MUST follow.


Rule #1 Respect the Establishment

Unless you are at an internet café that caters to people who work remotely, chances are that the owners are not equipped to house telecommuters for long periods of time. Take the lack of available outlets as a hint that you should hit the road once your devices start losing battery life. Recognize that you are utilizing their facilities and internet and may be preventing sales by taking up too much space or creating an unfriendly environment.

Here are some guidelines to ensure that you are respecting the establishment:

  • Order something, even if that means cutting into your own earnings
  • Don’t spend the entire day in the same location and become known as a “camper”. Spend no more than three hours in one location
  • Don’t leave a mess, clean up and put tables/chairs back in their original positions
  • Try different locations so that you aren’t sitting at the same table, at the same café, every day

Rule #2 Respect the Patrons

Be cognizant of your fellow patrons, and maintain a friendly, yet professional, demeanor. Remember that while you may not be in an office, it’s important that you don’t make yourself at home. Kicking your shoes off, spreading your papers out across several tables and creating a personal workspace not only hinders the owner’s ability to make money and but also prevents paying customers from having a positive experience.

Here are some guidelines to ensure that you are respecting the patrons:

  • Limit your workspace to one table and one chair
  • Save your Skype/Facetime convos for the home office
  • Keep loud conversations on the phone to a minimum
  • Leave the music selection to the café staff, don’t blast tunes on your laptop without headphones


All of these guidelines sound like common courtesy right? Unfortunately, they are often ignored and people seem to forget that when you leave your home office to work in a public space, your actions and behavior have an impact and leave an impression. Remembering to follow these guidelines will help you to form a positive rapport with the cafes that you frequent and fellow patrons.