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Is Co-Working the New Coffee Shop?

Is Co-Working the New Coffee Shop?

Ernest Hemingway did it. So did Henrik Ibsen and, at one time, J K Rowling. But as cafés look to evict the “Wi-Fi squatters”, is co-working space the answer for the next generation of writers and entrepreneurs?

A long tradition

It’s nothing new – as long as there have been cafés, people have been using them to work. Quieter than the pub but without the unnerving silence of a home office, they provide a pleasant working environment for people who enjoy a bit of background buzz while they work.

But if you’re one of the many who regularly grab their laptop and head out to the local café, you might want to rethink your reliance on this working practice.

The fall of the Wi-Fi squatters

Fed up with laptop workers draining their café of its sociable atmosphere while drinking nothing more than a couple of lattes, cafés are now trying a variety of methods to evict the Wi-Fi squatters (known in the US by the less polite “laptop hobo”) from their seats – at least for a few hours.

Some are charging for internet access or limiting the amount of hours which can be spent in a seat, while others are going wireless-free or trialling a laptop ban.

The rise of co-working space

So what’s a dedicated café worker to do? Head back into the traditional office? Work from home?

Actually, there might be a better way. A way which gives you the ambient background noise and the steady supply of coffee ΓÇô minus the disapproving glare of the barista. A space which is specifically designed for you to turn up and use as and when you want to ΓÇô whether for a whole day or just a few hours.

We are, of course, talking co-working.

Already popular with business people who travel a lot, all you need to access a co-working space is a pass. This gives you a seat, access to internet and often a phone line too, which also makes it a great option if you make frequent phone calls.

Some spaces even come with lockable storage so you can leave your stuff by your desk while you nip out ΓÇô safe in the knowledge that itΓÇÖll still be there when you get back. No one will have spilt coffee on it either.

Perhaps best of all is that co-working space offers a sociable, business-like buzz ΓÇô as our CEO Chris Meredith discovered when he trialled a plug-and-play business lounge earlier this year. Thanks to their workers-only policy, you wonΓÇÖt have to struggle against grizzling toddlers and rowdy teenagers to hear yourself think.

Co-working options on the increase

While Wi-Fi squatters may not be welcome in cafés for much longer, the need for flexible plug-and-play office space will continue to grow. And there are a growing range of options for filling that gap, including space at motorway service stations, university campuses and – in the US – recent trials in stationery superstores. Space in traditional city centre locations is also on the rise.

So while café working might be on the decline, flexible working certainly isn’t. If that means fewer lattes and more work, surely that can only be a good thing?

Love café working? What would you do if your local coffee shop started a ban on laptops or stopped offering free Wi-Fi?

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Author: | August 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

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