Coffeeshop Etiquette 101


I can’t tell you the number of times I have had to camp out in a coffeeshop to get some work done, either before or after meetings, due to travel, or because I just want a change of scenery.

I have pretty much seen and heard it all, over the years and this morning’s adventures have prompted me to post a quick, albeit not exclusive, list of coffee shop etiquette – the do’s and don’t do’s when you’re working from a public space.

Feel free to add to this list, or debate items on this list.

  1. Learn the difference between your phone’s speaker and it’s regular headset.  The gentleman beside me is unaware that he is using his speaker, and has the phone right up to his ear, has the volume very high, and is telling the person he is speaking to that he cannot hear him.  We all hear everything about the conversation and it’s REALLY loud.
  2. If you’re going to watch videos on your cell phone or laptop, invest in a pair of headphones.  Nobody wants to hear whatever you are listening to – music, news, videogame sounds, etc.
  3. If you’re holding a meeting with the rest of your office in, say, the Starbucks I am currently sitting in, trashing your competition and berating a staff member might not be the most professional approach.
  4. If you’re working in a coffee shop and it’s really packed and you’ve been nursing the cheapest drink for 5 hours, it might be time to move on…  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve finished my drink, then packed up earlier than I had planned because paying customers need space.  If I’m going to stay longer, I go back and buy food and another drink (although at Starbucks the additional drink is free, so I can buy better food… yum).
  5. Like being on an airplane, there are certain seats which have responsibilities attached, so if you’re sitting near one of the few outlets, be prepared to politely engage people who really need that free jack in order to meet a deadline or get through their morning.  Don’t be a grumpy outlet ogre!
  6. Be super respectful to the staff if you’ve been to a particular location more than once.  They know you, they recognize you, so don’t abuse your comfort level there.  Shake things up, try foods or drinks they recommend every now and then.  Remember, they control the on/off switch to the WiFi.
  7. If you’re not sure, ask.  I’ve come to many coffee shops and asked if it’s okay if I crash for a few hours, and I’ve asked them how long I can stay, and I have even told them upfront that if it gets busy, I’ll leave, or they can come tell me it’s busy and I’ll go.
  8. Make sure your sound is off on your laptop if you have a headset on your phone.  There is nothing worse than someone listening to music or having a conversation on their phone while their laptop is chirping away without their knowledge.
  9. Smile.  A smile goes a LONG way these days…
  10. Don’t make a mess, and be helpful, and you’ll be a welcomed customer for a very long time.
  11. It might go without saying, but for some people this is a real problem, but I cannot tell you the number of times I have gone to the washroom only to find the person / people before me had not flushed the toilet… UGH.  I can only assume these people also do not wipe themselves or wash their hands, because I teach my children to ALWAYS flush the toilet and wash their hands.  If they don’t want to touch the handle they can use paper towel or their foot to flush, then always wash and watch the door handle on the way out.
  12. If there are few seating options, taking a table for 4, or the handicapped seating is fine, unless there are people in need of those spaces.  Then you absolutely need to move or pack up and leave.  There is no reason to stay unless you are willing to share your space, which is absolutely a nice thing to do.  Sharing is, after all, caring.
  13.  Remember that as loud as it may seem in a coffee shop, with the music and coffee machine noises, it’s equally as loud for the person on the other end of the phone.  Before you change your voicemail, or make that critical business call, or job interview call, to step outside where it is quiet.  (To the kid who had a hard time on his phone interview last week, you really did lose out on that opportunity because you took your call in the washroom for 20 minutes, then flushed the toilet mid-conversation.  They totally heard and that lack of judgement blew it for you.  It was not because they didn’t like the answers to your questions… Trust me on that!

 

Happy to hear your thoughts and stories, as I move through my morning here in my local Starbucks where I keep my headphones on but am listening to everyone and everything…

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