It also seems redundant, given that we provide regular custom. Most remote workers or freelancers without a coworking space are creatures of habit, circulating 4-5 coffee spaces at a time. “It can become a bit of a hassle going to new cafes all the time, especially as they might not have reliable wifi or plugs available, so I tend to stick with the same ones” says one freelancer, Amy * I spoke to. Another, Mike, added that he found it “stressful picking new places to work frequently, so I keep to just three or four”. Routine was also highlighted by Petra, a remote worker based in Lisbon for the last two years, as an important reason to going to the same coffee shops “it is one less thing to think about, and provides structure to my day as a freelancer”.
We are almost territorial about the places we frequent, but not to the extent we don’t also provide a little free marketing for the cafes we love to work in too: “If I enjoy working in a cafe then I’ll definitely recommend to other freelancing friends. Our type of work can get lonely, and finding a place that feels comfortable to work in is not always easy to find, so I happily share the cafes I do like with others” said Alexa, a freelance marketing consultant.
Equally, word of mouth can also have the inverse effect. Ban laptops or make the experience so unpleasant you might as well have (allocating laptop working sections with seats that have no back support, whilst putting masking tape on the plug sockets…) then you can be sure we will also tell our freelance pals about that too.
On the subject of taking space: where does this put book lovers or pensioners having a chin wag in coffee shops for long periods of time? Do they not take up space in exactly the same way or is their presence just quite frankly…less irritating? It’s hard to say this without sounding like all freelancers have a completely overinflated sense of importance, but I do think us laptop users in cafes have come to be emblematic of the somewhat controversial cultural transformation the capital has undergone. After all, our proliferation in the city in recent years is one of the most quantifiable changes that some businesses can tangibly and I’d argue misguidedly, rebel against.