Etiquette Tips For Working Remote From A Coffee Shop

Now that so many of us have joined the ranks of remote workers, it means we have a lot more say over where we want to work. After months and months of precautions that made many people nervous to spend time in public spaces, many of us have grown bored of working at home. And if you don't want to fork up the money to join a pricey co-working space, coffee shops are one of the few available options. Working at a coffee shop provides a change of scenery that can help you feel more focused and motivated. But before you head to your local java stop and start taking loud Zoom calls, let's go over some basic etiquette tips for people working remotely at coffee shops.

After all, when you're at a café, you're in a public space where other people are working — that includes the baristas! You'll want to treat others with respect to ensure that everyone's able to work productively and efficiently. Here are some basic etiquette tips to ensure you're every barista's favorite regular.

Make sure you tip well

If you're spending money on food at any establishment, you should make sure you tip well. It's important to be mindful of this even if you're just dropping in to get a cup of coffee and leaving immediately. But it's even more essential if you're planning on staying at a coffee shop for hours at a time. The Takeout says that you should be tipping at least 20%, but that's really a minimum. So, if you're only going to be ordering one coffee with the expectation of consistent refills, leaving a handsome tip is a solid move that your baristas will appreciate. After all, they have to do more work the longer you're there.

One barista told The Takeout that about half of her income comes from tips, which means skipping it can have a huge impact on a barista's finances. Sure, we can talk about how coffee shops should pay their employees more, but in the meantime? Make sure you tip your barista well. It's the right thing to do —  especially if you're hanging out and working for a while.

Keep ordering food or drinks if you're staying there for a while

Even if you tip well, that doesn't mean you should only order one small tea, leave a tip, and stay at the coffee shop for hours without ever placing another order. Insider says that baristas may get annoyed if you work for hours on end without ever ordering anything more than a single coffee, so it's a good idea to walk up to the counter every few hours to get something else. You can always order another drink, but if you're there during lunch hours, you may want to grab a sandwich. A pastry is a good option if you don't want a full meal.

Even if you don't plan on eating whatever you bought at the coffee shop at that exact moment, making a purchase every couple of hours will make your baristas feel like you're not just hogging a seat. And who knows? You may find that your local coffee shop actually has the best bagels in town.

Pay attention to how many people are already in the shop

When you're deciding how long you're going to spend at any particular coffee shop, you should consider how much room is available and how many people are already occupying the space. If you live in a major urban area, you've probably visited a few small coffee shops that barely have enough seating for all the patrons they serve. If you walk into a coffee shop and see that almost every chair is occupied and there are more people waiting for a seat, you're not going to want to spend too long there. Instead, enjoy your coffee or snack, and make room for someone else.

But if you walk into a coffee shop that has plenty of free seating and little to no line, you can feel free to post up there for a longer period of time. Basically, it's about reading the room and taking other people's needs into consideration. You don't want to be the person who's hogging up all the space when others are just trying to sit down for a quick lunch!

Don't bring your own food to a coffee shop

So, you want to go work at a coffee shop, but you don't want to spend a ton of money. We get it. After all, you're working — you should be focusing on making money! Naturally, you may opt to bring your own food to your favorite coffee shop. Sure, you'll buy a drink there, but a whole meal? Forget it. Though that sounds like a financially savvy move, unfortunately, your baristas will probably think it's pretty rude.

This is particularly applicable when it comes to food from other restaurants. But bringing in a sandwich you packed at home isn't a great idea, either. Instead, just buy your lunch at the coffee shop or eat lunch before you go. The only possible exception is a small bag of trail mix, a few pretzels, or a granola bar — just don't make a habit out of it if you want to get on your baristas' good side.

Use headphones if you have to listen to something

Coffee shops can be noisy places, so it's easy to think that adding a bit more noise to the din won't bother anyone. But generally, you're not going to want to blast your music or a video. And if other people are working around you, try to stay as quiet as you can. So, what's the solution if you have to listen to something — or just work better with background music? According to ZD Net, there's a simple answer: Just use headphones.

It doesn't matter if you're using the cheap headphones you got the last time you were on a plane or if you have a state-of-the-art headset that blocks out all other noise. Just make sure they're plugged in or connected to your device before you start playing that sound back. It may seem like a small thing, but your neighbors around you will be grateful that they can continue to concentrate on their work without another distraction.

Don't bug other patrons

Many people who work from home contend with loneliness from time to time, especially when they're not going into the office at all. If you miss chatting around the water cooler, you may be looking for an alternative way to create social connections during your work day. Granted, a coffee shop can be an easy place to meet people, but you'll want to make sure that you're not bothering any of the other patrons that happen to be working there.

According to Barnie's Coffee and Tea, you should refrain from starting too many conversations with people who seem to be focused and working. Sure, you can always start a quick convo with someone at the coffee shop if it's relevant, but if people are there to work, they're not going to want to get too chatty. Keep that in mind when you're interacting with other patrons at your local coffee shop. If they seem friendly and want to keep talking, go ahead and connect with them! Otherwise, let people tackle their own work while you enjoy your caffeinated drink.

Don't take calls at a coffee shop (or at least take them outside)

While you should probably avoid blasting your music or YouTube videos over your computer's speakers while working from a coffee shop, what's the consensus on taking phone calls? You may think that as long as you don't put the call on speaker, you shouldn't have any problems. However, many, like a blogger for Verizon, agree that it's bad form to take a call that's longer than a few seconds at a coffee shop.

First of all, it can be considered rude because you're essentially forcing everyone around you to listen to your conversation. But even more importantly, you don't really know who's listening in. This can be an issue for company security, especially if you work for a publicly traded company. If you absolutely have to take a call, make sure you step outside to answer — your coffee shop neighbors (as well as your boss) will thank you.

Don't hog the outlets

We get it: Suddenly, you realize that your battery is at 1% and you need to find an outlet — stat. There's nothing wrong with finding an outlet to plug your laptop or phone into, and many coffee shops have several outlets around the store for this express purpose. But if you're not at one of those swanky places that seems to have an outlet at every seat, you're going to want to make sure you don't hog the outlets, according to ZD Net.

You can charge your devices up if you need to, but make sure you don't sit there hogging the outlet the entire time. Also, don't try to charge all your devices at once. It's a good idea to have all of your equipment charged before you head to the coffee shop, which will often negate the need to use an outlet at all. And pay attention to where your cords end up ... you don't want someone to trip over them.

And if you don't need the outlets? Try to find a seat that allows you to leave them open for other people. 

Feel free to ask someone to watch your stuff

When you're working alone from a coffee shop, you may have to get up from your seat every once in a while. Maybe you're heading to the counter to order another coffee, going to the bathroom, or taking a call outside. Whatever the case may be, you probably won't want to leave your stuff (including your laptop, presumably) sitting out on a table in a busy café without anyone watching it. If you're faced with this predicament, it's totally cool to ask a nearby patron if they can watch your things for a bit. Just make sure it's someone who's been there for some time and seems trustworthy.

That being said, you shouldn't expect that person to watch over your stuff for a long time. Take your call, go to the bathroom, or order your next coffee, but don't take a half-hour trip to the grocery store down the street. And if someone asks you to watch their stuff? Keep an eye on it while they're doing what they need to do well. You may just make a new friend.

Put your phone away when you're ordering

When you work remote, some days are so busy you're not exactly sure how you're going to get everything done. There's pressure to multitask, which may leave you feeling glued to your phone answering emails and receiving updates from the moment you wake up. But when it comes to ordering your coffee, you're going to want to put your phone down for just a minute. Many baristas consider it rude when customers use their phone when placing an order.

After all, you're dealing with a real human being. Your barista isn't just a coffee-preparing machine. Although you don't have to start an entire in-depth conversation, being present and engaging in some light small talk makes you seem friendlier and more open. And if you want to get the best service possible, that's just what you're aiming for. Even on your busiest days, remember to connect with those around you — especially the people working at your local coffee shop of choice. Don't be the regular they dread!

If you're going to hold a meeting, make sure it's quiet

Need to hold a meeting while you're working remotely? It may be better to just schedule time in the office, if you happen to have one. But if you absolutely have to meet at a coffee shop, you're going to want to make sure you keep it down, according to Edoc Service. Similar to taking phone calls at a coffee shop, you don't want to disturb the other people around you who are also trying to work. A coffee shop isn't your private space, and it's important to be cognizant of others' needs while you're there.

Also, you may not want your company's private business blasted across a coffee shop, which is even more reason to keep your voice down while meeting with co-workers. Try to keep your meetings at coffee shops small and quiet, and you shouldn't have any problems.

Don't monopolize the bandwidth

When you're at home, it doesn't really matter if you're downloading movies from Netflix while streaming a YouTube video and otherwise taking advantage of your bandwidth. But you have to remember that when you're at a coffee shop, other people are using the Wi-Fi too. Lifehacker says that you shouldn't monopolize the bandwidth when you're working remote from a coffee shop. This doesn't mean you can only have one tab open at a time, but try not to have unnecessary videos playing in the background while you're getting work done. Not only can it slow down you down, but it can affect those around you as well.

This may seem inconvenient at first, but think about how much better you'll be able to focus when you aren't doing a million things on your computer at once. Choose one task, stick to it, and make sure you're not hogging the Wi-Fi.