Coffee Shop Etiquette: Tips for Working Remotely From a Cafe

Can you imagine it? A place with a never ending supply of caffeine, soft background music, and unlimited, free WiFi. There’s plenty of table space and present conversation surrounds you. Sounds like a remote worker’s paradise, right?

A coffee shop is a really great place to work, and it certainly can be paradise, if you’re able to follow some basic guidelines for being an excellent cafe coworker.

Remember, you’re still a customer

If you don’t want to be “that guy” in the cafe, then you have to keep in mind that you are a customer. You know who “that guy” is. The one who is taking up a large table for all of his things and talking too loudly on his phone. The guy who hasn’t ordered anything in hours but is still sitting at the only table with a power outlet. 

You have to be a good customer in order to have a good place to work. This means, you have to order something, and as time passes you should probably order another something. Maybe start with a cup of coffee or tea and then if you’ve been working for a while grab a little snack too. Not only does this make you a polite human being, it will make the cafe staff happier to have you around, which in turn will make your experience better. 

If you want to be able to come to this cafe again, you want to leave the staff with a positive impression of you and your qualities as a good customer. 

The coffee shop is not your house. You don’t live here. Clean up your messes, tip the waitstaff and otherwise be a good customer. 


  • order something at regular intervals
  • tip the barista each time you go to the counter
  • order food if it is lunch time
  • clean up after yourself

Do not:

  • ask about free WiFi before you have even placed an order
  • order the cheapest thing on the menu
  • ask for free water

Keep in mind some places are not remote work friendly

Coffee shops can be bustling, high energy places. Take a good look at your surroundings before settling in for the long haul. Are other people working too or is your cafe of choice more a place for conversation or a quick grab-and-go spot? If you feel uncomfortable, or see no other people on their computers, you’ve probably chosen a shop that doesn’t cater to remote workers well. 

The easiest way to know if you’re welcome to plug in your laptop and spend the day? Ask the barista. If she says “sure” go ahead and hunker down, and then refer to tip No. 1. (See above). 

Be a team player (aka remember there are other people in the building)

You must make sure that your demeanor while working doesn’t negatively impact other patrons of the cafe. Your presence in the cafe should be as unobtrusive as possible. To do this, keep your voice down, don’t listen to anything without the use of headphones, and keep your workspace tidy. No one wants to hear you conduct a meeting while they are trying to enjoy their morning mocha. 

So, use headphones, don’t take up the biggest table and keep your phone calls to a minimum. (Or, better yet, get up and take your calls outside). 

Cafes can be excellent places to get some work done, and give you a change of scenery while working remotely. If you find yourself having to work away from home for several days in a row, try to spread out your patronage and try out a different shop for day two. Or, check out these other great ideas for places to work remotely. 

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