If all you need to do your work is a laptop and Wi-Fi, by now you’ve probably learned that temporarily getting out of your regular workspace and into a nearby cafe can work wonders for your productivity.

Some say it’s the optimal level of ambient noise. Most coffee shops clock in at around 70 decibels — a not-too-loud-not-too-soft buzz that scientists claim enhances the creative centers of the brain.

Some say it’s the welcome break from your annoying co-workers and dreary routine. When you’re off by yourself at the corner cafe, colleagues can’t interrupt you to ask questions or share gossip. And changes of scenery are always energizing.

Indeed, it may simply be that coffee shop chatter, which doesn’t concern you, is easier to tune out. You are alone but not alone, free to truly focus, perhaps inspired by the other folks also toiling away at neighboring tables.

Whatever the reason, more and more people are occasionally opting to hole up in the caffeine-delivery-system provider of their choice. But, as you might have guessed, there are right ways and wrong ways to do so.

While some coffee shops welcome remote workers with free Wi-Fi and rows of electrical outlets, they do all expect, and need, you to pay for the privilege. Don’t buy a single small cup of drip coffee and then park yourself at a table for four all day. Aim to purchase something every hour or so, tipping appropriately.


Some places limit how long patrons can linger; abide by their rules. Never take up more than one space. Oh, and please don’t engage in loud cellphone conversations or play YouTube videos without headphones.

Frequent a variety of coffee shops. Think about it this way. If you always go to the same one, you risk slipping back into the soul-crushing routine you were trying to avoid.

Leave the power cord at home. Instead, come with a fully charged computer and aim to get as much work done as possible in the time you have. It’s a great motivator and eliminates having to stretch your cable across the floor to plug it in (another no-no).

Finally, keep in mind that confidential work is not suitable for your coffee shop sessions. Public Wi-Fi isn’t secure. And anyone could be reading over your shoulder.