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Coffee shop working etiquette: What to know before you go

A woman works on a laptop at a coffee shop table

If you’re like most young professionals, you may be spending several days a week working remotely. Of course, you’ll probably spend most of your time in your home office, or even in a coworking space. However, many people also enjoy working remotely from coffee shops. Before you head out to work from your favorite local spot, it’s important to be aware of working in a coffee shop etiquette.

The dos and dont’s of working in a coffee shop are very similar to those that come with coworking spaces. Working from a coffee shop is frequently more laid-back and relaxed than an office or even a coworking space. You might find you’re more productive when you work from a cafe than from your house! Many people find the background noise of coffee shops conducive to focus. As an added bonus, there’s no dress code when working from a coffee shop.



A man working on a laptop drinks coffee


Here are the key components of working in a coffee shop etiquette:

1.  Use headphones

When you’re working in a coffee shop, be respectful to those around you by using headphones to listen to your own music or podcasts, and to take calls. Many cafes will have a soundtrack of their own playing in the background. Keep in mind that some people head to coffee shops to get away from noise and distractions at home or in an office. Avoid sounds from your phone or laptop, as they may disturb others working or enjoying coffee around you


2. Don’t spread out

When you’re working in a cafe, odds are you’re not the only one using that public space. Be mindful of how much space you’re using. Most coffee shops have communal tables and sofas, designed to be used by multiple people at once. Keep this in mind as you’re setting up your workstation for the day. It’s generally not great etiquette to take over an entire table when others may also want to use that space.  Try to keep the possessions you take with you to a coffee shop to a minimum.


3. Make a purchase

This is one of the most important etiquette rules when working from a coffee shop. You don’t have to order the whole menu, but it’s important to order a drink or snack, or both, depending on how long you stay. Keep in mind that your purchase (and tip) supports the cafe workers who will inevitably clean up after when you leave.


4. Avoid streaming

It’s important to remember that the internet in a coffee shop probably isn’t as fast as that in an office or coworking space. When you’re working in a cafe, you’re sharing the internet with others, so try not to slow it down for your fellow workers. Avoid streaming video or other content that takes up large amounts of bandwidth. That includes video calls, so make sure to check your calendar for meetings before heading to the cafe.


5. Limit calls

In addition to being mindful of your internet use, remember that cafes rarely have private spaces from which to take calls. Of course, different coffee shops have different atmospheres – some may have plenty of cozy corners where you can take meetings without disturbing others. Make sure you know the setup before you plan a busy day of calls from your local coffee shop. Other customers and remote workers might find the noise of your calls disruptive, so the quieter your work  for the day, the better.


Dreaming of becoming a digital nomad? Check out our brand new Digital Nomad Program here.



  1. Office Working, by Christin Hume on Unsplash.
  2. Male at work hustling drinking coffee while working on his computer, by Chase Chappell on Unsplash.


Photos and blog by Maeve Allsup

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

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