Freelancers who often work from home are often urged to get out of the house and work elsewhere. A change of scenery can do a lot of good, is the usual argument.
A popular alternative to home working is the café, but is it really that beneficial?
The pros of café working
A change of scenery
There’s a lot to be said for a change of scenery. Life can get pretty stale sitting at home, slogging away on your own. Plus, seeing the same four walls everyday can be boring.
Setting yourself a time to get there can bring order, routine and motivation to your day. And although nobody’s paying any attention, it can encourage you to get the work done.
The things and people you see, and the conversations you overhear (come on, it’s not just me) can all inspire you and provoke those lightbulb moments.
Social interaction and combating loneliness
Humans are social animals and interaction with others is important for our mental health. If you don’t just work from home, but live alone too, then your contact with other people may be limited. Working in cafés gives you the chance of at least a smile from someone else, and with luck, a chat.
The Cons of café working
Few cafés or coffee shops are happy to let you sit there taking up space unless you buy something, and prices are usually higher in places that belong to a chain and boast Wi-Fi. If you don’t need Wi-Fi, or you’re happy to do any research required via the data on your phone, you can reduce your costs by finding smaller or privately run cafés.
Outstaying your welcome
However slowly you try to eat and drink, there’s only so long you can make that coffee, cake or sandwich last. Then comes that crunch point, when you look up and realise you finished your last coffee half an hour ago and are now under intense and unfriendly scrutiny from someone behind the counter.
A lot of places (looking at you, Costa) require you to sign in before using their free Wi-Fi. Others might forget to mention that the free Wi-Fi is actually only for the first 15 minutes, and then you’re expected to start paying.
There’s nothing worse than buying yourself lunch and a coffee somewhere and then discovering you’ll need to go elsewhere to actually get a decent amount of work done. (Tip: Always check the Wi-Fi from the safety of the back of the queue first!)
Having a lot going on around you can be great for tackling feelings of isolation or loneliness. However, depending on what you’re doing and how you like to work, having people around you can be rather distracting. Especially in a loud environment, or with intrusive people.
Strangers who are too sociable (or too strange)
Social interaction is great, but there are some people who don’t know when to stop—or take no notice of your cues indicating that it’s been lovely meeting them, but you’re jolly busy, thank you, and need to get on. And sometimes, there are strange conversations and situations to deal with too; strangers who plonk themselves down at your table, despite a myriad of other seating choices, and launch into bizarre monologues.
Café; coffee shop; pub; library; co-working space; home. Where’s your favourite place to work?