Why Bookstores Are My Office

Another Day Another Bookstore

I work in bookstores and coffee shops most often. Sometimes, I work in airplanes, and other times, I work in my hotel room. I almost never go to my actual office space south of Boston. There are lots of reasons why.

  • Bookstores have books, which are full of ideas. When I work here, I can pluck a book off the shelf, get an idea, and get a new perspective on my project.
  • Bookstores and coffeeshops have fresh food and lots of people anxious to serve me the food. It means I can focus on what I’m doing and not worry about the sustenance part.
  • Bookstores have big parking lots and lots of room to hold brief, cafe-shaped meetings with a few people. They’re not the best place to conduct official business, but they’re perfect for brainstorming and idea gathering and status delivering.
  • Bookstores are usually staffed with pleasant people who don’t do what I do, so they’re willing to chat for a few minutes, but won’t bury me in the details.
  • Bookstores are actually fun. How many people’s offices are fun?

What surprises me more is the answer to this question: how come so many people still go to the office?

People’s biggest answer usually relates to collaboration. It’s harder to get stuff done when everyone’s spread out. The second answer seems often to be “we can’t tell when people are working or not.” That’s the one that bugs me. It just means that management and measurements need tweaking.

So what about you? What does the whole web commuting experience mean to what you’re doing? What is the value of your office (the place, not the people)?

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