13 Etiquette Tips When Working Remotely from Coffee Shops

With remote work becoming more common, many of us now have the flexibility to work anywhere with an internet connection. This could mean working at a coworking space, building the ultimate home office setup, or even taking your laptop to the public library.

But for many people, at least a couple of times a week, remote work means working from the local coffee shop.

Benefits of Working from a Coffee Shop

Here are some benefits of working from your favorite coffee shop:

  • Home office spaces can sometimes be demotivating as you are mostly working alone. Seeing other people working in a cafe can inspire you to work.
  • In a coffee shop you face fewer distractions. Despite the bustling surroundings, nobody tries to draw your attention to gossip or personal interactions. And you won’t be distracted by the idea of throwing in a load of laundry or quickly doing dinner prep.
  • Remote work tends to make you feel lazy. When you choose to work from a coffee shop, you get into a routine. This routine and movement can help you stay energetic and creative at work.
  • The most wholesome benefit of working from a coffee shop is the unlimited access to coffee or your favorite beverage that you can order anytime.

Choose a Coffee Shop Wisely

Remember, traveling miles to the coffee shop of your choice will defeat the purpose. You choose to go remote so that you don’t have to travel miles daily. Cut down the mileage. Try and locate a relaxed coffee shop that is near your house.

You should also note that not all coffee shops are remote-work friendly. Trust us, you don’t want to work from a cafe where you don’t feel welcome. You also don’t want to choose a coffee shop as your workplace that doesn’t have fast WiFi, enough seats, and a good number of outlets for your digital devices.

That’s why 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 whether 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.

Important Coffee Shop Etiquette

Just because the coffee shop owners allow you free and limitless access to their WiFi and don’t ask you to order something every few hours, doesn’t mean you should exploit their kindness. After all, it is their coffee shop, and you are their customer. So when working in a coffee shop, etiquette should be maintained. Read on to learn how to work remotely from a coffee shop like a veteran. This ensures that your presence isn’t a topic of sore discussion amongst the coffee shop staff. Taking care of these points would also make sure that you are not asked to leave there.

Don’t Spread Out

Be mindful of how much space you take up when working from a coffee shop. It’s a public space, and you’re obviously not the only one using it. If possible, use individual tables rather than communal tables and couches that are meant to be used by several people at once.

If smaller tables aren’t available, it’s fine to use communal tables and sofas. However, try to leave enough room for others and change your seat if a smaller table becomes available.

Remember, It’s Not Actually Your Office

If you’re going to work in any public place, it’s probably best that you plan on working on those things that you can do quietly. There can be a lot of noise at a coffee shop, but it’s easy for a louder-than-average talker or random noises to stand out over the normal hum of that setting. Things like conference calls or long, loud, virtual meetings should be reserved for your home office. You don’t have to ignore calls you receive, but if your conversation is going to be loud or long, you probably should take it outside.

Don’t Roll Your Eyes at Other Customers Who’re Talking Loudly

A coffee shop isn’t a library or a study, so you can’t expect other customers to be quiet or not talk loudly while you work. Have reliable expectations, or you’ll be frustrated and create unnecessary tension.

image from Facebook.com

Buy Something

This should go without saying, but working from a coffee shop for an entire day and buying one cup of coffee is not okay. They are running a business (rent, WiFi, wages, electricity, etc.) and you’re taking up space.

As a rule of thumb, buy something every couple of hours you’re working. If lunchtime hits and they sell food….buy something (don’t ever brown-bag it). Treat your local coffee shop as you would if you were sitting down in a restaurant. 

Don’t Complain about the WiFi

We all know the feeling. You’re working from a coffee shop and the WiFi is slow and patchy. You start to get frustrated and before you know it, you’re complaining about it to anyone who will listen. But here’s the thing: complaining about the WiFi while you’re working from a cafe is a major faux pas. It’s unprofessional and makes you look like a whiner. After all, you’re lucky to be able to use their bandwidth in the first place.

Pro Tip: Invest in a WiFi Hotspot. If you need strong connectivity, a better alternative is bringing your own WiFi hotspot. If your work requires running different software, downloading or uploading large files, or streaming content, you might as well bring a WiFi hotspot instead of 

using the cafe internet. Since you require strong connectivity and high-speed internet, the WiFi at your coffee shop may not suffice. In most cafes, both bandwidth and connectivity are limited.

Don’t Monopolize the Bandwidth

When you’re at home, it doesn’t really matter if you’re downloading movies from Netflix while streaming a YouTube video and otherwise taking advantage of your bandwidth.

But you have to remember that when you’re at a coffee shop (and have not invested in a hotspot) other people are using the WiFi too. You shouldn’t monopolize the bandwidth when you’re working remotely from a coffee shop. This doesn’t mean you can only have one tab open at a time, but try not to have unnecessary videos playing in the background while you’re getting work done.

Remember you are sharing that free internet with other paying customers, and slowing down their access is poor etiquette.

Don’t Hog the Outlets

We get it. Suddenly, you realize that your battery is at 1% and you need to find an outlet, fast. There’s nothing wrong with finding an outlet to plug your laptop or phone into, and many coffee shops have several outlets around the store for this express purpose. But if you’re not at one of those swanky places that seems to have an outlet at every seat, you’re going to want to make sure you don’t hog the outlets.

You can charge your devices up if you need to, but make sure you don’t sit there cornering the outlet the entire time. Also, don’t try to charge all your devices at once. And pay attention to where your cords end up, you don’t want someone to trip over them.

And if you don’t need the outlets? Try to find a seat that allows you to leave the outlets open for other customers.

Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to have all your equipment charged before you head to the coffee shop, which will often negate the need to use an outlet at all.

Use Headphones

Many people go to cafes to escape distractions and noise. So be considerate of other customers by using headphones to listen to music, watch videos, or take calls. Also, put your phone on silent to avoid disturbing others.

Avoid Making a Mess

Whether you order a coffee and a snack or eat a few full meals at the coffee shop, do your best not to make a mess. If you do, be courteous and clean up as much as you can.

Refrain from Asking Others to Watch Your Stuff for Longer Than a Quick Bathroom Break

You can expect to take a few bathroom breaks during your time in the coffee shop. In this case, it is acceptable to ask the staff or someone sitting close by to keep an eye on your belongings while you make a quick trip to the restroom.

However, you shouldn’t leave your belongings unattended for any other reason. If you need to exit the cafe, don’t ask others to watch your stuff. Pack it up and bring it back with you when you return.

Tip Your Baristas

One of the best ways to show your appreciation for coffee shop staff is to tip them. They work hard to keep the coffee flowing and deserve a little extra for their trouble. Tip them well and often, especially if this is your go-to spot.

Abide by House Rules

Whenever we go to someone’s house, we have to adjust to fit that setting. The same goes for coffee shops. They’re places of business with their own rules and you should abide by them

Some shops, for example, have specific seating areas dedicated to people working on laptops, so that customers who are just there to relax or have coffee with a friend can have their own space. Some shops limit their hours to people on laptops, who tend to monopolize tables. Remember to respect and follow the systems they have in place.

There will be times when you might feel confused about what’s acceptable or unacceptable in a coffee shop. If you are in doubt, talk to the baristas.

Don’t Overstay

The more customers, the better for a cafe. So if you’ve stayed for several hours and there are no more empty seats, it’s time to go.

Don’t pretend you don’t see the other waiting customers. Avoiding eye contact with them isn’t the best solution. If you really must stay longer, make sure you order more drinks and food and tip well.


With a steady supply of caffeine, comfortable seating, WiFi, and a relaxed atmosphere, coffee shops are the perfect place to get some work done. And as working from a coffee shop becomes a more popular practice, it’s important that we all follow proper etiquette. Be kind and respectful and follow the tips contained in this article and your local coffee shop will be the perfect place to set up shop and get some work done.