Dear PoPville – Advice for Working from Home or Coffee Shop?

Photo by PoPville flickr user ekelly80

“Dear PoPville,

I’m about to start a job working from home for a company out of state. I’m a little nervous about staying focused and getting bored at home. For anyone else who works at home, where else do you go to do work? I live on U Street. Thanks!”

35 Comment

  • P st. Whole Foods is always a go to for me. Internet, enough power sources, and snacks abound! Plus, lots of eye-candy;) (And you know I’m talking about the cab drivers and not the yoga chicks!)

  • The Coffee Bar and The Wydown are both popular “working” coffee shops.

  • Whenever I go to The Wydown Coffee Bar, I always see a handful of people doing work and studying. Their current pop-up location doesn’t have big comfy chairs or couches, but they do have very spacious tabletops for work.

    • I actually prefer the Wydown because it has plenty of table top space and hard seats. Working on a deep couch or really comfy chair lowers my productivity very quickly.

  • make sure you treat your day like a workday. get up and shower, get dressed. have a dedicated workspace at home that you keep tidy. fine to work outside as well from time to time, but this stuff has always helped me.

  • The Coffee Bar (aka TCB) seems pretty popular with work from home folks when I walk by in the mornings.

  • Also popular: busboys and poets, kafe Bohem, tryst, tynan, and mediterranean spot.

  • It’s a bit father from U St than the other suggestions (which are also great!), but I always loved working in the courtyard of the Portrait Gallery downtown. Reliable wifi, always plenty of space, and feels “outdoors” without actually being outdoors. And while there aren’t many electrical outlets, I always found that to be a motivating factor to use my time wisely 🙂

  • Just to toss out one other option: I always see a lot of people working from Steam Cafe at 17th and R as well, and the place never seems so busy that you’d be under pressure to give up your table.

  • I work at home and have been for over a year now. I find that keeping myself on a schedule and setting goals for what I want to get done by the end of the day helps a lot. Also remember to eat and take breaks. You don’t have the distractions you would normally have in an office so you have to make them. If you have a dog that needs walking that helps. I don’t like going to the cafe’s and stuff to work because it is a little to distracting for me with all the people milling around and other things. I agree with the poster below who says have dedicated spot to work at home and put on real clothes

  • austindc

    I usually work from home because I need access to some resources that are not very mobile, so here’s some tips for working from your home instead of going to a coffee shop:
    1. Keep the same schedule every day. Make sure there is a clock, and set an alarm if you find yourself working way past quitting time every day.
    2. Take your lunch breaks and get out. I usually do errands or go for a quick walk.
    3. Keep your work separate from your relaxation space. If possible, keep your workspace out of sight (behind a door or screen) when you’re off duty.
    4. When you are working, set a schedule for what you expect to accomplish each day, touch base with your coworkers a lot, and use the phone instead of using email for back-and-forth conversations.
    Best of luck with the new job!

  • Don’t be a chair and table hog.

    Space at places like Peregrine are a hot commodity. I will ask and you will share a table if I see you’re only using half of it and there is only one open chair left int he place. Also tip the barristas very well if you plan to camp out all day.

    • +1 million! I can’t stand it when the shops are full of people working/otherwise on their laptops while using 2 of the three chairs at their table! Of course wearing earphones making it seem even more intrusive to ask them to share the space.

      • oh, and definitely tip the staff!!

        • Spot on! I am a barista at Filter Coffeehouse, and we are very welcoming to customers that use our location as a home-office (I am often there on my laptop during days off). However, it should be common courtesy to order items and tip regularly – a coffee/pastry and $1-2 tip per hour is absolutely sufficient. I am astounded at how some people think it appropriate to order just one coffee, leave no tip, and sit at a table consumed at their laptop for 5+ hours, without any interaction with any of us behind the bar or with fellow coffeehouse patrons. Good to see people here recognizing that coffeehouses are not to be treated merely as condition-free wifi zones.

          • Why don’t coffee shops in the U.S. adopt the European model where you get a pass code on your receipt that gives you 1 hour of wifi for your purchase? I’ve never seen that implemented here and it seems like it would work well. If you want to keep using the internet, buy something else.

          • Wouldn’t it be better if instead of having 20 customers at your place all day, you were able to have 500 people come in and enjoy a coffee with their friends? I hate it when people park themselves at a coffee shop for more than 1 hour. It’s just awful and ruins the vibe of the place.

    • figby

      Thanks for this. I love Big Bear for wine and snacks but don’t go there anymore because the tables are all taken by sullen laptop jockeys — one person to a four-top — who very much consider it their living room.

  • Get a dog! You will have to get out for fresh air and exercise.

  • I’ve been self employed for 10+ years and about half of that time I’ve worked from home. I agree that setting (and sticking to) a regular schedule is helpful, otherwise you can always be working. It can be isolating if you don’t make an effort to get out and meet friends/colleagues for coffee, network with others in your field, take advantage of any training opportunities, etc. If possible, keep your work space separate from your living space, or make a habit of putting your work materials away/out of sight at the end of the day.
    And, unless you are expected to always be available during office hours, take advantage of daytime yoga classes, going to the gym when it’s not packed, grocery shopping & other errands when places are less crowded.

  • Please stay home and do your work. You will be more productive. if you need a break then go out to a coffee shop or whole foods.

  • Get yourself a reader card for the Library of Congress!

  • If you’re an independent contractor and getting paid as your own employer, get a second bedroom/den and turn it into an office. That portion of your rent is a tax write-off.

  • the library!
    the Mt. P & Shaw branches aren’t far and have been renovated recently.

  • I work at home, and as others have said, make sure you keep a schedule. I still work “9-5” but of course that always varies slightly. I have my “office” set up, and I seriously am more focused than I was in any office before. In fact I’d say I’m probably too focused because I forget to take breaks. I am not sure I could focus as well at a restaurant or coffee shop, as I’d be too distracted people watching!

  • Ride your bike (or walk) up to The Coupe on 11th Street. I love the comfy booths and the low-pressure waitstaff. I’ve worked there for hours at a time (I’m talking about through two meal services) and there’s never been any stinkeye anywhere. Plus, when the weather’s nice, the big front windows are open.

  • As someone else has said, don’t become a cyber hobo…they are the WORST! It’s become near impossible to meet someone at Tryst for coffee any more and actually get a seat (at certain times) because it’s cyber hobo central.

    I work from home and the few times I’ve had to leave the house (Internet issues, work being done at the place) and I’ve had to go to a coffee shop for a couple of hours, I have always bought coffee and a snack and then tipped ridiculously. Essentially I’ve made the tip what the server would have gotten if the table had turned over three times for the three hours I’ve been there.

    And seriously, keeping a schedule similar to what you would have done in a office is key.

  • Check out the BakeHouse on T and 14th. It’s small, cozy, has free wi-fi, and perks if you go often! (i.e. free treats!)

  • RedRocks on 11th street (near the Coupe) is open tues-sun and has free wifi and usually not crowded during lunch hours. I do this every once in awhile if I want to get some work done outside of my place (I live in Adams Morgan) in a place NOT packed with laptop jockeys.

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