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Of digital nomads, coffices & etiquette

January 12, 2016

Ground Art Caffe in de Waterkant, Cape Town

(The original version of this editorial first appeared in the Cape Times in 2016) 

Five years ago, I swivelled out of my ergonomic chair, reduced my office into a laptop, and joined the borderless tribe of digital nomads. After a desk bound decade I was up for reinvention and the coffice was calling my name.

Building your business around your lifestyle

The whole coffice thing isn’t new. People have been working remotely from home or at ‘coffee offices’ for years for various reasons. With the redundancy of landlines and no need for conferencing facilities or simply weary of the commute, flickering fluorescents and corporate rigidity, countless worker bees have joined the global community of location independents.  These days, a surprising amount of clients are satisfied with a once~off meeting, if that, and the rest of the brief goes down on Whats App, Facebook Messenger or via email. You can be discussing anything from anywhere in the world, as long as there is solid connectivity. This is about building a business around a particular lifestyle rather than the other way around and it works like a dream for the entrepreneurs and creatives among us. But before anyone rolls two emoji eyes heavenward, let me be clear that coffice workers work, hard. I am speaking for myself here when I say that my days are structured, I have a schedule, am deadline driven and productive.  

Ristro8 in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wander and work

There are no limitations for the roving worker. On the PR front, I have flipped open my MacBook and tapped out publicity campaigns from locations all over the planet, be it in the middle of the Cape Town CBD, a homestead in the Klein Karoo or a ryokan in Kyoto, without missing a beat on timeline or strategy. As for my travel and lifestyle writing which is my other job, the freedom to come and go as I please, conduct interviews face to face and be where I like, when I like, has added inspo, helped me up my game, reduced my stress levels and satisfied the restlessness of a wandering spirit. 

The Yard, Roodehek Street, Gardens in Cape Town

Millions are doing it

Close to 1.3 billion people globally have swopped their corporate employment situations for a more informal set up and are attending to their tasks remotely, either part or full time. For some, a structured set up with co-worker interaction is necessary and most certainly has it’s advantages but even so employees are increasingly logging on from their dining room tables or elsewhere. Progressive managements accept that whether the job is completed in a corporate cubicle or from the local deli, as long as stuff gets done to specifications, that is all that counts. 

Blue Dye Cafe, Bangkok

Coffice etiquette, according to Diva (with grateful input from others)

There are numerous go-to spots in our fine city, and others I’ve visited on a  regular basis, that offer fast, free WiFi and a five star flat white, but what say those who own said establishments, who are footing the fibre bill so we can download, upload and freeload?

The way I see it, there is a code, coffice etiquette if you like, as below >

* Don’t hog space: don’t spread out like you own that four seater, & when peak times present, move to the bar or window counter;

* Following from the above: to achieve max productivity, go to your coffice when it’s quieter when fewer people means less noise. Some people can work effectively in the middle of an uprising. Me, not so much; 

* Have a plan: know what you need to accomplish before you sit yourself down; don’t amble in without a definitive work plan as it wastes time;

* Don’t overstay your welcome: 2-3 hours is a fair amount of time to get your coffitivity on;

* Bring a multi-port adaptor:  this is so you can share a wall plug with others – people will appreciate the thoughtfulness;

* No talking on your cell indoors: be considerate and take personal calls outside.  No one wants to hear your outside voice inside,  even if you’ve just landed the PR gig for Cold Play or a travel feature in Condenast Traveller (I live in hope); 

* Drink and eat: don’t suck up the Wi-Fi for 3 hours and order one flat white.  It’s not fair. Eat something, spend some money. You don’t want the coffice owner to roll his eyes every time you walk in;

* Bring headphones to block out noise and so you don’t disturb others when you need to listen to something online. Headphones also send a clear ‘do not disturb me’  message.

Basically, respect your coffice master and the vibes will forever be in your favour

Cafe Charlot, Paris (38 rue de Bretagne)

Below are a few of my top coffice recommendations on the Atlantic Seaboard & in the Cape Town CBD. I have added a few images of favourite overseas coffices too (click on the names) in Le Marais in Paris, Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well ~

Jason in Green Point, Shift Espresso Bar in Green Point, Ground Art Cafe in de Waterkant, Crossley & Webb in Gardens, Kleinsky’s in Sea Point, The House of Machines in Shortmarket Street, Molten Toffee on Kloof Street,  Jarryd’s in Sea Point, Saucisse Deli at the Biscuit Mill, Red Sofa in Vredehoek

Until next time,

 

  Until next time,

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