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Starbucks Is My Office: A Guide for Mobile Over-Caffeinated Workers

Staying in Sync

Though you're working solo in a Starbucks, you may still need to stay in touch with colleagues and clients. You should certainly keep your smartphone (with the Starbucks mobile payment app on board, of course) close by--but the Starbucks regulars we've talked to agree that conducting lengthy or loud phone calls from your seat is a breach of etiquette. Step outside if you need to. But for when you do need to make calls, a service like Google Voice will help ensure that colleagues who need to find you can easily do so.

If you're looking for a professional, yet inexpensive, phone option, Christopher Young has some recommendations. Young owns Async Recruiting in Philadelphia, a company that offers a virtual interview tool for employers. Like his product, his workspace is virtual: Young regularly works out of one of the five Starbucks located near his home. For staying in touch, he recommends eVoice or RingCentral, which deliver such business-friendly options as virtual voicemail, professional call routing, and automated message routing.

For collaboration, Young recommends Facebook Groups, Campfire (a relatively inexpensive tool for business users), and DropBox (the simple document-sharing service).

A cloud-based backup service like iDrive or SugarSync can help guarantee that you'll have access to the files you need--and it will free you from having to carry around a USB drive for backup.

What else do you need to keep yourself productive while working from a coffeeshop? Most people recommend a good pair of noise-canceling headphones--for instance, the mc3 Headset + Earphones from Etymotic Research or Bose's QuietComfort 15 Noise Cancelling Headphones. These devices block out any background noise, and they prevent others from being disturbed by your music or videos.

Why Bother?

Lugging all that gear to your local coffeehouse may seem like more trouble than it's worth. But Starbucks regulars disagree. Most consider the distractions posed by fellow patrons to be less challenging than the distractions they would face if they worked at home, where kids, spouse, chores, and other diversions lurk.

"It's almost like you're working in a fishbowl. You're on display, so you do more work," says Keith Hinzman. Add in the ability to meet new friends, network a little, and--of course--ingest caffeine, and it's clear why so many people call their local café their place of business.

There is one more factor to consider. Joe Calderone, who does freelance marketing, graphic design, and Web design work from a local coffee store in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst, Illinois, offers this bit of advice: "Watch how much coffee you actually drink. When focusing on all of the work being done, you don't realize how many cups you've downed until 'the twitches' kick in. Not only is it an uncomfortable feeling, but it also can drain funds."

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