Man Working in Coffee Shop mobile ergonomicsFor freelancers, contractors and business travelers, the local coffee shop has become more than just a great place to hang out and sip coffee. It’s become a workplace… a de facto office park where essential business takes place. However, to ensure that your time in the coffee shop is both productive and comfortable, it’s important to take the following key steps into consideration.

1. Bring Headphones

The buzz and hum of a coffee shop can be just enough sound to keep your mind stimulated and on task. But if that “buzz” turns into thumping disco music and that “hum” becomes your neighbor having a loud conference call, you’ll be concentrating more on how you’re going to tell everyone to put a sock in it than on your actual work. That’s why it’s so crucial to bring a good set of noise canceling headphones with you to block it all out. Have a calming or motivating playlist prepared ahead of time, or consider using a white noise app.

2. Check-In on Foursquare

If you’re new to a city, Foursquare is a great way to find the coffee shop that will provide the most productive environment for you, as it allows you to filter your search based on keywords, like “comfy” and “free wi-fi.” And if you plan on returning to that coffee shop a few times, you might also get a few rewards from the shop to thank you for your patronage.

3. Bring Your Workstation With You

Of course, you can probably guess that most people who work from coffee shop rely heavily on mobile devices like tablets and laptops. This is great for mobility, but if you’ll be working there for hours on end, you’ll be putting a lot of strain on your joints and musculoskeletal system, as these devices aren’t built with comfort in mind. To keep things healthy, we highly recommend bringing a laptop and tablet stand and a Goldtouch mobile keyboard with you. Keeping your laptop at the right level will prevent you from hunching, while the mobile keyboard will gently guide your wrists into a more comfortable position. Together, both of these products will help prevent muscle and neck pain as well as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Additionally, you may want to bring both a powerstrip and an extension cord, as there’s often greater demand than supply in many small coffee shops (and your fellow patrons will worship you when they see what you’ve brought). Wi-Fi can also be spotty, so you might want to learn how to turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot in case of emergencies.

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4. Take Breaks and Change Your Position Often

Those coffee shops couches may be comfy, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got a free pass to stay sedentary all day. Get up to stretch every 45 minutes or so, and alternate sitting with a stint at a higher table or counter, where you can type while you stand. Every few hours, take a real break, whether that means chatting to the baristas or walking around the block. If you often forget to move around, set an eggtimer to remind you to work in sprints rather than in marathons.

5. Patronize the Coffee Shop

coffee cup on table
Working from a coffee shop means actually patronizing the coffee shop. This may seem obvious, but coffee patrons are known for buying a single coffee and staying for a whole day. Some coffee shops even have rules against doing this. To be polite (and not bankrupt the whole operation), make sure to get another drink or snack every couple of hours or so, leaving a good tip every time you do. This may seem expensive, but it’s a little price to pay to show the establishment you appreciate their need to pull a profit. Plus, if you regularly work in a coffee shop rather than in an office or a co-working space, the amount you’re paying is nothing compared to rent, and it’s all tax deductible.

With these tips, you’re sure to have both a well-caffeinated and accomplished day. How do you keep your coffee shop workday both productive and fun? Let us know in the comments below!