Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Starbucks Bumper StickerWhen I say “working at Starbucks,” I’m not talking about as a cashier or barista. I’m talking about all those Starbucks customers who like to bring their laptops and spend the day there working off the Wi-Fi connection. This is a phenomenon in almost every Starbucks I’ve been to no matter the country. And, I know Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf has a group of customers who like to do the same. Why?

First of all, Wi-Fi at the Starbucks here in London isn’t free; ?20 per month which also includes other T-Mobile hotspots but it appears to be cheaper if you’re an existing T-mobile cell phone customer. Why should I pay that when I’ve already paid a significant amount for broadband connection at home? Although I suppose it would have been handy when we didn’t have internet in our first months in London. (/me shakes fist at Wanadoo-Orange)

Then there’s the food – it’s none too good and also overpriced. And, I don’t find their tables to be big enough for proper work. I like to spread out all the magazines and books I use for reference plus my lunch, drink, external hard drive, camera, and other random stuff. Show me a table at any coffee shop that’s big enough for all that. Only my dining room table suffices. The wooden chairs and sofas also don’t seem to be ergonomically comfortable.

There’s also the issue of privacy. There’s no way I could do Skype voice calls or IM without wondering if someone is eavesdropping or peeking over my shoulder. I’d also find it difficult to concentrate with all the noise and activity. And, I definitely wouldn’t want to bump into anyone I know because I’d be obliged to chat instead of work. If it’s a stranger, it’s all the worse (and I do seem to attract talkative strangers).

I like to work at home where I can get other household chores done, wear anything I like, sit on my own comfortable and clean furniture, eat my own food, and not have to lug any muggable, breakable equipment out of the house. What about you? Do you like to do work in Starbucks or other public places?