I have flexibility to work from wherever I want – but I find that I’m most productive working from a coffee shop or cafe, rather than from my house. I really like seeing (but not talking to) other people, and find that I concentrate best with a little bit of background noise.
The problem is that there are not very many coffee shops that have an ideal work environment. I think you only need four things:
1. Solid, reliable internet. This is the most important. I don’t think it needs to be free – just fast and steady.
2. Decent coffee and food. I am not a coffee snob by any means. Just needs to be passable.
3. Unobtrusive, interesting background music.
4. Plugs. And plenty of them.
It’s not an extensive or demanding list, but I’m consistently surprised by how few places in SF check all four boxes.
My two favorite places to work: Workshop Cafe (downtown) and Coffee Bar (Mission) hit all four very well. They also are two of the only places I know that charge for internet access: Workshop charges for access to the space ($2/hr which includes free internet), while CB charges for premium internet ($5/day, which I usually pay for). I don’t think it’s a coincidence. As more people “work from home”, there’s going to be a lot more demand for ad-hoc co-working spaces like the traditional coffee shop. Remote workers don’t mind paying a little extra for things like good internet, or a quiet place to make phone calls. Coffee places should embrace some of these extras, but feel that most places would rather not have customers hang around all day if they’re only going to buy one cup of coffee.
So, I’ll stick with my favorites. And when I work from home, will import my coffee shop background noise from places like Songza. 🙂