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Working remotely from a café: a survival guide

Working from home is brilliant, but it’s only natural that you’ll start to crave a change of scene and a little human interaction after a while. According to O2 Business research, two fifths of UK workers spend more than half a day per week working from a coffee shop office – a figure that continues to rise as flexible working becomes more popular. For those who haven’t yet tried it – or for those who weren’t totally comfortable when they did – here are our top tips for working remotely from a café.

Find your perfect spot

First things first: choose your favourite working café. Ideally, it’ll be spacious with plenty of tables to choose from, with minimal noise. You’ll have to expect background chatter in a public space, but, in case you need to make calls or prefer not to listen to music while you work, the quieter the better. Look for a relaxed atmosphere where you won’t feel you’re outstaying your welcome – if you can get to know the staff and become a familiar, friendly face, that’ll be a big help. Wi-Fi is essential, while excellent coffee and sweet treats are a close second. Both Costa and Caffè Nero have shops nationwide – they’re comfortable, often have plenty of table space during the day and offer a guaranteed Wi-Fi connection.

Next, you’ll want to locate the best seat in the house. Some people like to work near a window for the natural light, while others find it’s distracting to watch the world go by. Think about the fact that you’ll be stationed there for a good few hours, so, although the slouchy leather sofa might look inviting when you first arrive, think about how comfortable you’ll be at the end of the day. If you want to keep yourself to yourself, pick a small, private table in a corner; if you’ve got time to stop and chat, swap stories and do a bit of networking, choose a larger sharer table.

Time your trip

Don’t head to your café of choice first thing if you plan to stay to the end of the day – it’ll feel like a seriously long stint punctuated by numerous coffee orders. Mid-morning would be a better bet, as you can claim your seat before the lunchtime rush, boost your energy levels with a meal and then have a couple of drinks throughout the afternoon.

If you don’t like the idea of working from a café every single day – it’s not a cheap option, after all – think about mixing up your coffee shop trips with days spent at friends’ houses, in the local library or, if you don’t need an internet connection for a few hours and the sun’s shining, the park. If you’re a member of an art gallery or museum, they often have members’ rooms: quiet, secluded areas with Wi-Fi and impressive surroundings.

Be prepared

Remember that you won’t have everything to hand like you would in an office or even at home. Here’s what you should pack:

  • An extra-long charger cable for your laptop
  • A spare battery in case there’s no plug available
  • Headphones
  • Notepad
  • Pens
  • Phone charger
  • Any other cables

The Wi-Fi in cafés can’t always be 100 percent relied upon, so learning how to tether your phone would be a good idea. Most coffee shops don’t have printers, either, so get any printing done beforehand.

Be considerate

There will be other people working nearby or meeting with friends, so keep your phone on silent and your music confined to your headphones, and talk as quietly as you can if you have to take a call. Generally, though, we wouldn’t recommend arranging calls in coffee shops – you won’t be able to hear each other so it simply won’t be worth your time.

Keep an eye on your stuff

You’ll need to leave your seat to go to the bathroom, order another coffee, stretch your legs or get some fresh air. As you’ll likely be working remotely on your own, it’s important that you protect your belongings. If you’re heading somewhere you won’t be able to see your laptop, wallet, handbag or phone – even if it’s just for a couple of minutes – take them with you. Leave your jacket or a book there so nobody claims your spot, but keep your valuables close for peace of mind.

Now all that’s left is for you to pick your spot, settle down, tuck into some delicious fare and enjoy your new office.


Let us know below  if you have any tips for remote working, and for more business tech advice, check out the O2 Business Gurus online or over the phone.



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