Most reasonable professionals are aware that there are certain behaviours that are inappropriate in an office setting. For example, whistling while you work is likely to irk your neighbours, and poor hygiene is just plain icky!
Alas, there don’t seem to be a set of etiquette rules for independent workers at my headquarters where the average office space costs a cup of Joe an hour. Fortunately, I have created a top ten list of coffee shop etiquette rules for the mindful, modern-day worker.
10. Order something. We all know Starbucks has an open-door policy, but don’t take advantage of the chain’s kindness, or you might ruin it for the rest of us. If you’re going to park there for three hours with your laptop, at least order a coffee. Really, it is the classy thing to do.
9. Remove your garbage from the table when you leave. No one should have to clean up after you when they arrive.
8. One table/seat per worker. Please don’t make someone have to ask you to remove your backpack from the chair or table beside you. Be considerate, and only use the space you require.
7. Share the outlets. If you are fortunate to be sitting beside a power outlet, use one socket, and leave the other for your neighbour.
6. Wash your hands. According to many research studies, office work spaces carry an extraordinary amount of germs. When you work where you—and others—eat, washing your hands on washroom trips just makes sense.
5. Use your indoor voice. No one wants to hear you barking orders at the top of your lungs into your cell phone. You can chit chat; just tone it down a bit please.
4. Be tolerant. Believe it or not, coffee shops do not cater to starving writers and college students exclusively. Expect some noise and commotion from families with children and bad-mannered boneheads (they usually don’t stay for very long, anyway).
3. Avoid conversations with people wearing headphones. Generally, when people have their headphones on while they’re working in a coffee shop, it means they are trying to block out noise and focus, you know? They might even be in the (sacred) zone.
2. Eyes on your own laptop screen. It might be tempting to peek at your neighbour’s screen and check out what (s)he is working on, but it’s also rude. If you’re really curious, and (s)he is not wearing headphones, simply inquire (in a non-creepy way). You might just make a friend or meet a future business associate.
1. Proper hygiene still applies. Do I really need to explain this rule? Icky, remember?
Do you care to add to this list of politeness policies, or dispute a rule in this new set of civility bylaws? Please submit your cases for review below. 😉