When I studied abroad in Europe, if I wanted to get homework done or Skype with my friends back in the United States, I had to trek to an internet cafe, where I'd pay a fee — or buy a coffee — and mooch its high-speed WiFi for hours.

Luckily, it's much easier to find high-speed wireless internet access out in public than it was back then. But the urge to get work done somewhere other than my office or my desk at home hasn't changed. Nowadays, I usually head over to my local coffee shop/juice bar that serves up delicious cold brew and green smoothies and power through a few hours of writing or data-crunching.

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The freedom of remote work means that working at a coffee shop can break up the monotony if you normally work from home or from an office. Keep reading for our tips for a productive (and delicious) working session from your local coffee shop.


1. Go to coffee shops to do heads-down independent work, not for holding meetings or calls.

Before you even leave the house, take a look at your schedule to make sure you have several hours of uninterrupted time ahead of you. When possible, it's best to avoid taking calls or joining video meetings when you're working from a public place, like a coffee shop or a co-working space. It's inconsiderate of the people trying to focus on work or their own conversations around you, and the ambient background noise in spaces like these is distracting for your coworkers on the other end of the line. If you want to take a break from the office (or the home office), plan your schedule accordingly so you're only doing independent work while you're there.

2. Read reviews before you go.

Before you pack up your belongings and make the trek over to a coffee shop, be sure to read reviews on Google or Yelp if you've never been there before. Previous visitors might leave comments about if the environment is conducive to getting work done or not, if it has enough outlets to go around, or if the location charges for WiFi after an hour (yes, this happens).

3. Bring chargers and a backup power source, if you can.

To my previous point, power outlet real estate is typically competitive at a busy coffee shop, so if you have an external laptop battery or phone charging stick, you'll be certain that you won't be forced to move tables or pack up and go home again if your computer battery runs low. At the very least, bring a computer charger with a long cord so you can reach outlets no matter where they're located.

4. Use noise-canceling headphones if the background noise is too loud.

Some people can't get work done without a little background noise. In fact, I like working with this cafe sounds generator in my headphones from time to time. Ambient noise can help us feel more productive sometimes, but that all depends on the coffee shop -- particularly, how loud it is. Sometimes the clatter of plates and lunchtime chatter can be deafening, so you'll want to make sure to bring headphones that cancel out background noise and help you focus on your work instead of the people around you.

5. Bring a WiFi hotspot.

If the work you need to get done involves streaming video content, uploading or downloading files, or running different software at the same time, you'll need a strong WiFi signal. And if you're working in a crowded coffee shop, connectivity and bandwidth might be limited. You can avoid this in the first place by reading reviews and searching to see what previous visitors have said about the WiFi. You can also bring a WiFi hotspot (sometimes, your phone can do this) so you can independently access a strong signal.

6. Tuck yourself into a corner table, or sit with your back facing the rest of the shop.

People-watching is one of my favorite things to do, but when you're trying to get work done at a coffee shop, it can seriously derail your productivity. To stay focused while you're out working in public, try to position yourself in a spot where you won't get distracted by sitting in a corner, or sitting with your back facing the rest of the room, so other patrons' fashion choices and public breakups don't knock you off your game.

7. Bring your own water.

When you're packing up to head over to the coffee shop, bring a big bottle of water with you. It's important to stay hydrated throughout the day for proper physical and cognitive function (especially if you're drinking coffee). Bringing a water bottle with you will help you avoid multiple trips to the coffee counter throughout the day to get a fill-up, which can derail your productivity.

There's nothing we love more than breaking up the monotony of remote work or work from home life with a trip to your favorite local coffee shop. With these tips, you'll be able to have the most productive (and caffeinated) day possible. To learn more, read our list of remote work statistics next.

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