We are Café Commuters!Posted on June 8th, 2009 1 comment
For those less hell bent on travel, working from your local coffee shop can be a very relaxing and therapeutic alternative to the hum drum of office life. Lori Thiessen and Gregg Taylor of Coffee Shop Office, Vancouver have perfected the art!
Gregg and I were delighted when Marieke Guy of UKOLN asked us to write a guest post for her blog. Like Marieke, we are advocates of remote working. Upon Marieke’s suggestion, we will tell you a little about our café commuting experiences.
Gregg Taylor is an award-winning career coach and employment trends expert in Vancouver, British Columbia. For almost 20 years, Gregg has been the President of Transitions Career and Business Consultants. As his company has grown, office space has become somewhat cramped and the noise levels have increased. Gregg began to take ‘out-of-office’ work days in order to focus on specific projects outside of the hectic pull of his office.
Unfortunately, Gregg didn’t have internet access from his home so he began using his local coffee shop which did. What was also great about working from the coffee shop was that there weren’t the distractions found at home like the Kilimanjaro-sized pile of laundry. And the coffee was always piping hot and the staff handled the clean-up.
One day Gregg was looking around the coffee shop and he saw that other people were hovering over their laptops like he was. He struck up conversations with different ones and politely asked what they were working on. Some were students working on homework. Others were business people taking an ‘out-of-office’ work day. Still others were writers working on their latest creation.
Over time, Gregg developed friendships with some of these fellow cafe commuters. In fact, Gregg has enlisted the help of a couple of these cafe commuter colleagues (a marketing person and a self-publishing specialist) for the Coffee Shop Office project.
His friends and colleagues are now so familiar with Gregg’s alternate office, the Esquires on West 16th and Oak in Vancouver that they will ask him if he is going to be at the head office, the satellite office or his coffee shop office. He’s even held staff meetings at the coffee shop because it is a half way point between his two offices and it is easier for the managers to meet in the middle.
My experience as a café commuter was pretty much nil until Gregg asked me to help him with the Coffee Shop Office project. I was intrigued with the idea though and I knew that the coffeehouses of 18th century London were often used by their patrons for conducting their own business. Lloyd’s of London, the international marine insurance company, began during this time in Edward Lloyd’s coffeehouse in London’s dockyards. The idea of investigating the current remote working trend sounded very interesting and great fun so I was excited to join Gregg in this venture.
Most of my work history consists of administrative jobs that required me to be in the office supporting the work of others so I’ve had little opportunity to sample the café commuter life. When I was a student, I was generally too financially embarrassed to splash out on several coffees a week and I didn’t want to sit in a café nursing one small coffee for several hours at a time. The café owner needs to make a living too.
Since 2007, however, I’ve taken the plunge into the entrepreneurial world. Scriptorium Ink is my little concern and I do writing, editing and research. I’ve met with a few prospective clients at the coffee shop because I don’t have a ‘proper’ office and my home office is, well, in my home. Until I bought a laptop, I was chained, or rather cabled, to my home office. With the laptop came the freedom to work from virtually wherever I chose.
Gregg and I conduct most of our project meetings at the Esquires coffee shop. The barista/owner knows us very well by now as do most of Gregg’s coffee shop office colleagues. They are very kind and often inquire about the progress of the project.
One of the hazards of being with this project is the urge to eavesdrop on conversations in coffee shops. I’m so curious to know what other cafe commuters are doing around me that my ears are continually flapping. I’ve heard an accountant advising a client, someone being instructed in Hebrew, a wardrobe consultant conducting a first interview with her client, and a photographer discussing some creative ideas with his assistant just to name a few.
Gregg and I are proud to be part of this diverse and wide-spread community. We are also pleased to network with other café commuters to exchange stories as well as share information to make remote working easier and viable for more and more people.
Thank you, Marieke, for this opportunity to share our café commuting stories.
You can avoid the guilt of choosing to continue your career. There are ways to be at home to care for aging parents and maintain a career.