It’s been happening for a while: meetings have moved from conference rooms to coffee shops, business calls can be taken in the middle of a café, important paperwork is taken care of at the food court. The structure for so many businesses has shifted to an online interface, and the physical, real-world aspect of the office is slowly starting to fade. Thanks to the Internet, we work where we want to, when we want to, and how we want to.
But unfortunately, with this freedom comes quite a few social risks. When humans share breathing space, they can’t help but act… well, human. Even with all our high quality technology and cloud-sharing and fancy communication devices, we can’t help but ignore some elements of common decency when we’re working in a public place.
While these aren’t necessarily hard-fast rules bent on making you a stiff, upright netizen, they are definitely something to consider. All of our suggestions are aimed at keeping you less intrusive and even more focused on your work.
Headphones Are Your Best Friend
Headphones are literally the greatest things in the world – legitimately, amazingly, truthfully. While we don’t have an affordable option for true virtual reality, these $10 miniature speakers can plug you into a different world: ambient sounds, music, even a world without people! Because no one ever bothers you when you’re wearing headphones, right? Heh.
But for real, if you are working with media-heavy materials (light video editing, perhaps) or maybe you absolutely have to have music playing while you are working, then get a pair of headphones. They keep you from annoying other people with sounds from your laptop, and they also can keep you in the zone.
That said, don’t start blaring music from your laptop’s speakers while working in a room full of people. It’s rude, and it’s likely to distract anyone who may be around.
Keep Phone Calls At A Normal Conversation Level
If you can have a conversation in a coffee shop, then you can have a phone call, too. However, keep these two rules in mind: don’t speak super loud, and don’t draw attention to yourself. Because that’s obnoxious. Speaking of headphones, if you have an iPhone, I’d recommend using the included EarPods or any other headphone kit that feature a microphone – they are awesome. Bluetooth users? This is also your time to shine with a Bluetooth headset. Just… keep it down, will ya?
On the other hand, it seems as if many people really can’t stand phone-talkers in coffee shops just… because they are there. People sometimes think it’s rude even if they are sitting at a table full of friends, chatting away. Let’s be honest. This is kind of stupid. If you like to complain about phone talkers, you’re probably in the same category as people who force coughs when anyone with an e-cigarette is nearby.
Skyping Actually Isn’t That Bad, But…
Moving right along, I’d even go as far to say that Skyping isn’t a cardinal sin while in public. But again – headphones. Furthermore, make sure your camera isn’t facing a direction that will show anyone. Why? People are sensitive about their privacy anyway these days, and nobody should be displayed anywhere that they don’t want to be. In this case, it’s more of a respect type of situation.
Even If You Aren’t At Work, NSFW Does Apply
Look, MakeUseOf isn’t your mama. We don’t care what you do or look at while you’re online, but occasionally, other people will. When you’re in a public place, you don’t know who’s around you. You also probably don’t know what they will be comfortable and uncomfortable seeing if they happen to glance over at your workstation. Yes, while they should definitely be minding their own business, it’s something to think about.
Look at it this way: the business you are working in is allowing you to do whatever you need to do there. Respect that by playing nice with others, because in the end, you should want their operation to succeed.
Don’t Hog The Bandwidth
Guys. When free WiFi is provided to you, respect it. Don’t play a thousand 1080p Vimeo videos at once while rocking out some Titanfall in a separate window. Oh, you were supposed to be working, right? Just keep in mind that everyone is drinking from the well, and you should be willing to share.
Keep The Business Thriving
Most importantly, wherever you are, whatever place that so gracefully allows you to come in with your work materials, set up shop, and sit for a few hours while you do your thing, support them. Buy a drink every hour. Eat there often. Recommend it to your friends. Post about it on social media.
After all, coffee shops and cafés are slowly becoming our modern offices, and we all need to do our part to help pay the rent.