In between the home office and the office office, there’s a third place, where mobile workers can go to get some work done: laptop-friendly places, like coffee shops, cafes and restaurants.
Some balk at the idea of laptop-warriors taking up space and bandwidth, but there are benefits of appealing to mobile workers and things that laptop-friendly places can do to make the most of the opportunity.
So, why’s it a good idea?
There are lots of reasons why coffee shops and cafes should welcome laptop-warriors. Beyond peak times, mobile workers keep these places busy and more appealing to passersby – as well as a reason to keep the coffee machine running!
Mobile workers are used to the idea of ‘renting’ a table at a cafe with purchases at the counter. So, even if we stay a long time, we pay for it in coffee! And we’re a switched on bunch too. So, if baristas have problems with their networks or computers, we’re likely to be able to help.
Appealing to the mobile work crew
Here are some ways coffee shops and cafes can appeal to mobile workers.
- Offer free wi-fi. Coffee shops aren’t going to get many mobile workers through their doors if they don’t have wi-fi – and they’ll miss a trick if they don’t make that connection free! Free wi-fi will keep mobile workers coming back, and they’ll tell others about their network discovery too.
- Make mobile workers welcome. If your local coffee shop offers free wi-fi it should boast about it, and let passing customers know with a window sticker and a smile (not a grumble!) when laptop-toters ask for the passphrase.
- Empower customers. If there’s one thing that lets down the romance of mobile working it’s the scant availability of a consistent power supply. If you don’t have somewhere to plug in, you’re at the mercy of your laptop’s battery. Coffee shop owners can help by exposing available power outlets or even providing power strips, like my local cafe Lemon Monkey does.
- Make a snug. The word ‘snug’ comes from old English pubs, and it refers to a small area set aside from the main bar that is quiet and discreet. Coffee shop owners that are serious about the mobile working contingent should consider setting aside an area for a ‘snug’. If nothing else, it’s fun to say! (Tinderbox Cafe in London has ‘snug’ booths that are popular with mobile workers.)
- Keep an eye on kit. What do you do with your laptop when you need to use the bathroom in a coffee shop? Do you take it with you? Leave it at your table? If you see mobile workers faced with this kind of dilemma, offer to watch it for them – or, at least, don’t wince when they ask. They’ll stay for another coffee (and inevitably another trip to the bathroom!).
Photo credit: ahhyeah