I’m just loving my office away from my home office. Today, it is the Middleway Cafe in midtown Anchorage. At other times, I alternate between Cafe del Mundo - also in midtown - and Coffee Cats closer to my home which is in South Anchorage.
Each of my offices away from my home office serves a different purpose. Coffee Cats is less than a 5 minute drive from my house so it is easy to get to quickly and I don’t get caught in cross-town traffic to get there. It is a cozier coffee shop and quieter as most customers grab their coffee on the run. Those who hang out seem to be regulars who know the owner by name. I frequent this place not only for the convenient location but because it is owned by a young woman, and I want to support her business. I hold the occasional client meeting here, however, South Anchorage isn’t always convenient for downtown clients.
The spot I use more frequently for client meetings is Cafe del Mundo in midtown - perfect location that is halfway between downtown and South Anchorage. They have a good selection of roomy tables and the space is bright and sunny. It is frequented by many of the movers and shakers in town so you are bound to run into several people you know - as is your client - so it makes for great impromptu networking moments.
I’ve added a new spot to my rotating office away from the home office roster. The Middleway Cafe is also conveniently located in midtown. I tend to use it more for meetings with colleagues rather than clients because at breakfast and lunch time, there is a dull roar of voices and espresso machines that can make it hard to hear and be heard without a little extra effort. Not a problem with people I know, but not as conducive to a consultant/client conversation.
So how do you pick the right office away from your home office - or even your regular office if you have one? Here’s my list of criteria:
1. Free Wifi. This is a must. Without free wifi, I can’t do work or demonstrate things to client. This leaves out Starbucks even though there are 2 perfectly convenient locations - they charge for their wifi through AT&T and unless I’m on the road, it isn’t worth paying for it. I also like to frequent locally-owned businesses and not franchises or chains.
2. Convenient Location. Convenience can vary. For me, it is closer to my home. But when I’m meeting someone, I let their location dictate the meeting place choice.
3. Big Tables. Let’s face it - when you work with a laptop, a new iPod touch, 2 cellphones (don’t ask), a paper calendar, a paper notebook for notes, plus a coffee - well, you need some room. Then add all the stuff your client or colleague is bringing to the table - literally - and a 2-top just won’t do.
4. Good Coffee/Good Food. Every place I go to more than once has good coffee - that is a given. Middleway is really the only one of the three with freshly made breakfasts and lunches versus pastries or a few packaged salads or sandwiches.
5. Good Networking. I love the serendipity of seeing someone I know or meeting someone new in a cafe. It is less formal than a networking event or client meeting and a great chance to do a quick catch up or get top of mind again with others so they think of calling on you when they need a consultant.
6. Quiet. When I’m working on my own, I don’t need silence - a dull roar is actually like white noise to me. But when conversations must be clear, quiet is key.
The only downside of working from any other location than home is the non-green aspect of it. Telecommuting is supposed to reduce my impact on the planet, however, commuting to my favorite cafes could cancel that out if I did it too often. So I try to keep my mini commutes down to once or twice a week. Hey, we’ve got to be green, right?
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