Working from a Cafe

Today was the first time I tried working from a cafe, not because I had no internet connectivity at home, though. I just decided I should give it a try. I didn’t have a huge variety of options where to go, since it’s quite cold outside and I didn’t want to spend all day in the metro either. I went to McDonald’s which is 5 minutes walk from where I live.

I didn’t take me long to find a good spot where I can sit with my MacBook, so I had a couple hamburgers and of course coke. It did take me a while to get used to all the noise around, but eventually I stopped noticing it, and what’s best — I stopped feeling weird.

The time flew by (and so did the hamburgers) and since I didn’t need any voice or video, I was quite comfortable writing and committing actual code :) There were a few distracting moments though: the wifi spot was made to disconnect every 30 minutes, so I had to reconnect and relaunch proxy and SSH every half an hour; and people came by once in a while, asking if they may sit next to me. The last time that happened I didn’t even look — I just nodded.

The funniest thing, though, is that I met a person who was sort of starting his own business in Moscow, and he wanted to hire me to make him a website for $100. And I didn’t say “no”, I just pointed him to the right direction (a freelancers job board.) I thought of telling him about WordPress, but I had more important things to focus on at that moment :) Maybe next time!

Another funny story is that I asked a friend of mine whether he ever worked from McDonald’s, and that I’m willing to give it a try. He was shocked because he thought that I was applying for a job at McDonald’s. To better understand this, the Russian “from” and “at” in that context, can easily mean different things. Like “working at home” and “working at a cafe.”

To wrap up, it did feel a little weird working from a cafe, but I loved the fact that I didn’t have to stay home. Next time I’ll try to pick a different spot, maybe one that’s not so crowded and with a better Internet connection. So what about you? Have you ever worked from a cafe? What places can you recommend for the best productivity?

17 thoughts on “Working from a Cafe

  1. I’ve never tried working from a McDonald’s, but have worked from a Starbucks and a Panera Bread on multiple occasions! It’s nice just getting a break from working at home and actually seeing other people.

    • It is, isn’t it? Even if you don’t want to (or can’t) actually talk to them, you can still feel the energy. I don’t think there’s a Panera Bread anywhere in Moscow, but Starbucks is definitely on my list. Thanks for your comment Tommy!

  2. Very interesting, i would like to give it a try but McDonald’s is too crowded here in Donetsk,Ukraine (people are actually just standing around for several minutes waiting for a free table). And we don’t have Starbucks :(

    • Well it depends on the time and day, sometimes you’ll have to wait for a better spot, however, McDonald’s is probably not the best place to try it out. I’m sure there are a bunch of other cafes in your area, not necessarily Starbucks :)

  3. I work quite often from the road, when I need to go out to meetings and that… but I find it really less productive. I get easily distracted with the people around. Also once you got used to work with two monitors, it’s hard to go back.

    • Oh look, the desktop guy is here! Well, true, if you’re used to a dual screen, or a 27″ iMac, it’s difficult to work in a different environment. However, I really just need a browser, a text editor and a terminal, screen size or quantity doesn’t matter, even the OS doesn’t matter :) You do have a valid point though, and I appreciate your feedback! Thanks for commenting :)

  4. I don’t have a laptop at the moment, ( it’s broken) but as soon as I get a new one in a few months, I’ll definitely try working at a public place.
    There’s a nice shopping mall with a food area overlooking the sea, so that should be inspiring.

    • Awesome Paul, though make sure they have Internet connection, since most food courts in large shopping malls near the place where I live don’t, or do have, but a really crappy one.

      I guess I can get an unlimited 3G plan for my phone and tether it to my mac, quite slow, but I don’t need high speed most of the times. Hope your laptop is fixed soon, and thanks for stopping by!

  5. I actually work in a restaurant in Mdina :) there’s this restaurant with half Malta under you. so cool for random meetings and work… that the waiters now reserve us a particular table where it’s alone and people can’t peek at your screen. :)

    • Mark, I’m not sure, but I think I’ve been to that one, they serve the best cheesecakes in Malta and yeah, the view is just amazing! At moments like this, I regret we moved away from Malta, though I’m pretty sure I can find an inspiring spot somewhere here too ;)

      Thanks for your comment!

  6. I work from home like you, and try to get out and work from a coffee shop about once or twice a week. Most of the time I go to Starbucks because I know their offering well and they have reliable wifi. Other times, I try out different coffee shops – since I’m fairly new to Vancouver, where I currently live, it’s nice to try out new places and see what they are like.

    There are also frequent web developer meetups (and less frequent WordPress specific meetups) here as well as a few coworking spaces that I try to attend as much as I can.

    Definitely important to stay in touch and work with other people even when working from home!

    • Cool! Thanks for your input Joachim! As mentioned in a comment above, I’m gonna try a 3G plan on my phone and see if it’s reliable, in which case I can work in any cafe, unless it’s under the ground ;)

      Dev meetups and co-working spaces is awesome, something difficult to find here in Moscow, especially WordPress-centric, but I’ll keep looking for people!

      Thanks again for your comment!

  7. I’ve started working from coffee shops about 4 years ago when malls got popularity here in Sofia. I had a shuttle from home to the coffeeheaven (Polish coffee shops) and I’ve been doing several hours of coding there, being able to do some other work as grabbing lunch, paying some bank taxes, mobile services and so on available at the mall place. The paid parking made it a good choice for cold winter days.

    Since then I have been working from coffee shops at least twice a week, sometimes spending the entire week in different coffee shops such as Starbucks, Onda, Costa Coffee – depending on other todos for the day and the region. Even when I had to deliver full time trainings in Saudi Arabia in the autumn I’ve been doing some regular research from the coffee shops there.

    Nowadays I am aware of all coffee shops nearby, the number and location of power sockets, open WiFi networks and, of course, the variety of coffee drinks there :) It works great for the inspiration despite of the people who browse around the location. I tend to do co-working with other freelancers and consultants too, just sitting next to each other and working on different projects.

    • Mario, wow that’s awesome! I’d really love to co-work with somebody like that. I’m planning to start going out once a week, and then perhaps taking the metro, to wander around some of the places in the center (I live in the south eastern part) where the cooler (and more expensive) stuff is.

      Thanks for your comment!

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