I’ll have that to go: The problem with the ‘café office’

by Cameron Edmond15 Aug 2013

Free Wi-Fi, friendly environment, and quick access to caffeine is attracting more workers to use cafés as a separate office space, research from flexible workspace provider Regus has shown.

While 52% of baby boomers deem meetings in cafés unprofessional, only 45% of Gen X and 38% of Gen Y feel the same, shifting to getting work done while sitting in a comfy chair with a cappuccino at hand.

“Although working from your nearest café may sound tempting … there are some serious issues to consider for management when asking your employees to work on the road,” Jacqueline Lehmann, country head of Regus Australia, said.

Australian employees highlighted a number of concerns they had when working in cafés. Most commonly, there were concerns over the privacy of conversations and documents (79%) as well as being unable to leave equipment and personal belongings unattended (77%). Broken down, other concerns included:


  • The conversations of others disturbing productivity (66%)
  • Difficulty in making phone calls (61%)
  • Difficulties in accessing office equipment (60%)
  • Unreliable internet (56%)
  • Lack of access to company documents (48%)
  • Unprofessional location for client meetings (41%)
  • Difficulty concentrating on work issues (37%)
  • Bad diet due to temptation of food and coffee (36%)
  • Bad posture (33%)
  • Inability to video-conference (33%)
  • Bad or unreliable telephone reception (25%)


“Respondents to this survey made it quite clear that coffee shops are not the most effective place for them to work. With 72% of companies globally saying that flexible working is helping them to be more productive – this study raises concerns for both managers and their employees,” Lehmann said.

The concern in using coffee shops and other similar areas as a place for work clashes with the flexible work arrangements that some employers encourage. 

“It’s about far more than giving them a ‘home office’ allowance or implementing a “bring your own device” scheme,” Lehmann said. “You need to provide people with realistic options and alternatives, such as professional hot-desking spaces near to where they live.”



  • by Melissa 15/08/2013 3:00:52 PM

    Some pluses you haven't talked about include:
    - Coffee shops do provide the vital face-to-face environment and helps relax the scene when you are trying to engage and bring people along.
    - helps build relationships and trust in a relaxed environment
    Both the above are critical elements when trying to influence and negotiate with people

  • by elizabeth heusler HPR 15/08/2013 7:17:30 PM

    It depends very much on the nature of the meeting. I am a PR consultant and there is often a requirement for a casual meeting be that with clients, the media or suppliers. I think we are should all know when a private space is required and when a more public space is the go.

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