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Is Starbucks your “office”?

Everyday I think all my full-time entrepreneur friends have the BEST life!  In the middle of the day they can stop what they are doing and head out to Starbucks to meet someone to talk business or just to sip coffee and reminisce about life.  Having been a full-time entrepreneur in a past life I realize that sounds a lot more glamorous than it really is.  The truth is, you may get the chance to do that from time to time, and attend networking events during the day, and other things that being trapped by a 9:00-5:00 does not allow, but at 2:00 am when you suddenly jump out of bed because the project you’ve been working on for 4 weeks pops into your head…there is no going back to sleep until you figure that out!

My friend AS is one of those entrepreneurs who gets to do her thing everyday instead of marching to the beat of the corporate drummer.  And the other day (Monday, August 6th to be exact) after she made her way to local Starbucks to meet up with a friend for a little social time she encountered quite the scenario due to some men who decided that on that particular day Starbucks was going to be their “office.”  Upon reading her status update on Facebook I responded with a comment and specifically made mention to blogging about this issue.  Due to other things I decided I wanted to do on Monday and Tuesday night I did not write said blog post and had all intention of doing so today.  Well…let me just say that this behavior at Starbucks must be an epidemic!  Because last night as I lay in bed reading other blogs that I follow regularly I came across a very interesting post from Intuit – they wrote a post titled: 8 Rules of Etiquette for Working in Coffee ShopsRead more here.  Perhaps this is where I should say “great minds think alike.”

Now, without further ado I’d like to share with you AS’s post and all the comments that followed.  I’ve used initials for all those who commented with the exception of my comments which say HEATHER.  Let’s face it – I’m blogging and always speaking my mind so I have no reason not to say which comment it mine, but out of respect for the others who commented I will not post their names.

AS: Just found myself at the center of a Starbuck’s etiquette controversy: I was in a crowded, in-town location that was full of middle-age white guys with laptops using the Starbucks as an office. I was there to meet a friend for coffee and to socialize, the entire point of a Starbucks. We hadn’t been seated for two minutes before a guy turns to us and says, “Ladies, people are trying to work here so you need to lower your voices.” Before either of us can say anything a debate breaks out around us about whether or not Starbucks is “the library,” that ended in name calling. Clearly, people are riled up about proper coffee house behavior. To me, this is a PSA for coworking–there is no expectation of silence at Starbucks.

Oh the comments this status update stirred up!
MF: Geez louise! These guys better get a grip. They’re in a coffee house for chrissakes!  Hey, somebody break out a guitar! 😉
KG: Agreed! You give up your right to privacy ( & quiet) the moment you walk to into Starbucks, the nerve!
JC: I witnessed this same kind of thing at my regular Starbucks one morning. A guy who uses Starbucks as his office was upset because another guy was on his phone. He berated the guy in front of everyone and when it got back to the manager, he was actually the one the that got in trouble. All of the staff told him that what he did was not appropriate. Turns out he had been kicked out of another Starbucks before. I haven’t seen him in a long time!
UH: Are you serious? Starbucks is not your private office…they have appropriate places to conduct business…its just a courtesy on Starbucks part to let people come in with their computers and “work”. I just can’t believe it.
KW: Smh. Wow. The WHOLE Starbucks and other coffee houses as offices has gotten so out of control. It is NOT an office. I have even seen them ask ppl to move so they could plug up!
KY: ‎AS I believe this deserves a tweet to Starbucks Howard Schultz I have NEVER seen a sign at ANY Starbucks (or Caribou or any other coffee house) that required a vow of silence. Sheesh….totally out of line if you ask me!
KTC: You were right. They were wrong. IMHO.  People should work in coffee shops because they like that environment, not because they don’t have their own office space.  Interesting interaction though, thanks for posting.
KY: KTC Think they should rent an office suite somewhere instead of freeloading an office for the price of a coffee? Just sayin’
HEATHER: What is this world coming to? Now, if I’m on a restaurant trying to enjoy a meal I do have a problem with phone conversations (when overly loud) but if you want a quiet workspace go rent one or work from home…or just anywhere but a coffee house. I’m really tired of everyone feeling entitled to EVERYTHING these days!
OH: makes me wish I were there
KY: OH I know… maybe we should schedule a group meeting with a speaker! LOL
HEATHER: I would have said something to the for sure! And then they would have become the subject of my blog (although that may still happen because I’ve been on a rant lately)!
KW: @ OH & KY ~ Count me in for the group meeting! Lol… I will bring a power point and all!
KW: @KY ~ I have seen cases where they do NOT buy anything! And I really think that should b a deal breaker. Smh…
KY: @KW That is even MORE unbelievable!
KY: And yes, PPT is perfect!
KY: @Heather, blogging on this… DEFINITELY!!!
KTC: …@ KY, OH, KW …. maybe a flash mob…
AP: Call me crazy, but when I need it to be “library quiet” I go to the library.
AS: ‎KY I am planning on contacting Starbucks Howard Schultz about this. I’m a huge fan of his book “Onward,” which is all about Starbucks as a place to socialize and connect with community.
VK: There is no such thing to preferred atmosphere or entitlement to that preference whilst in a public space (from planes to coffee houses).
I have been both the social meeter as well as focused worker. When I want quiet but desperately need Internet/lunch I make sure to bring my sound canceling headphones.  This is a huge economical issue from the standpoint of the coffee house owner that sprung up during the recession. Someone buying one cup of coffee and parking in a seat (or two or four) for 8hrs using Internet, electricity and the bathroom.  Some coffee houses have tried to fight the library atmosphere by imposing a limit on the Internet access or in the case of @octane coffee Intown by the cemetery don’t even have plugs available, which has brought the atmosphere back to the traditional setting.
KY: ‎AS Good for you! I’d say your experience was the perfect example of a few hijacking the socializing and connecting atmosphere for the many! You go, girl!
KY: Only wish you’d gotten it on video! (DId you?)
AS: KY No video–I was too stunned to catch it.
KY: Oh well, your description paints enough of a picture! 🙂
PB: Its a coffee house. Neighborhood Socializing. Work at home if you have no office….sorry (I have been on both sides).
RPA: Ah ha! One of the very reasons that I wanted to open The BizLynks Center. There are great coworking locations throughout Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Check us out!
AS: Here’s an irony: I had just come from looking at a shared office space. Had a fight not broken out, I probably would have given him a heads up on coworking nearby.
KW: ‎@Heather ~ Yes, blog about it! What is your blog address?
TS: spill your coffee on the persons keyboard…problem solved
PR: Insanity. No, no silence. Good grief
KRG: Sheesh…would love to see what they do when I bring my 7yo twins in for steamed milk when it gets cold.
EB: Good grief!
CB: Time for a Starbuck revolution??? <smile> That is crazy!
CM: Wow. another reason I can avoid Starbucks.
JS: Wow , Starbuck’s office
RL: I would have LOvED to be there!
PT: I think so many people are out of work and trying to minimize overhead by not having internet access at home. They use Starbucks instead (or Caribbou or Pannera or…..). I am amazed that they are allowed to stay for so long with maybe the purchase of a single coffee. There is one coffee shop that doesn’t allow that to happen. Will be interesting to see how long he lasts.
KW: So who is all in for THE STARBUCKS FLASHMOB that Kristen Colier suggested? Rehersal at my house…Lol
CD: Unbelievable!
KRG: AS, message me which Starbucks. The littles and I are ready for a field trip!

I completely understand the need/want to reduce the cost of overhead especially given today’s economy.  Here’s an idea…find a little space in your own darn home then.  When you enter a public place that was originally created as a meeting place for friends to gather and enjoy some downtime you certainly are stepping across the line when you get mad at people for talking!  That being said, I’m not overly fond of the children who are allowed to release constant blood curdling screams while I’m out to eat.  It’s funny how parents can ignore that type of behavior, but grown men who take over the local Starbucks cannot overlook the fact that people are at Starbucks to relax and meet up with friends!  Maybe someday we will all find a way to get along together – even at the local coffee shop!

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About GeminiRed Creations

*cough cough* I’m over 40 and an entrepreneur at heart. I am in Corporate America, but my heart is in being an entrepreneur and supporting small business owners. Although my almost 2 year stint at owning a business was not as successful as I dreamed, it's still a passion and so I now try to put my efforts into helping other entrepreneurs such as my brother who owns Wickedly Wooden (www.wickedlywooden.net) and my friend Heather who owns Rinse Bath & Body (www.rinsesoap.com). I do enjoy my job so it makes it easier to get up and go to work every day even if it's not my own business. Maybe one day I will take a stab at it again...like right now I make handcrafted items such as hair accessories, aprons, and jewelry. In my free time, of course! In my "other" spare time I love to read - especially anything biographical or autobiographical. I also enjoying writing, but mostly for fun and I can write a pretty good “threat” letter when I need to. I’ve been known to get things done! I write about a wide variety of things from the random tomato or piece of food on the ground to the odd things I see in my daily life to politics…now if you don’t agree with my politics that’s fine, but be respectful and don’t post hateful comments.

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