Is Starbucks an Ideal Office Space for Remote Workers and Freelancers?

15min read
Updated: 09.08.2021

According to Upwork, a popular platform that pairs the networking of enterprises and individuals, one out of every four Americans will work remotely in 2021. 

Even in a post-pandemic setting, the number of remote workers is projected to continue to trend. 

Starbucks Coffee Cup and Computer ScreenCredit: Unsplash

As the years roll on, Starbucks will no doubt still be playing an ever-important role – making sure freelance and remote workers’ cups are brimming with expressos, cappuccinos, and lattes and keeping them connected to the internet and each other.

A Brief History Lesson: How Starbucks Became an Office Space for Freelancers

It’s difficult to say which came first…the chicken or the egg.

Did Starbucks fill a need for remote workers, or did they create the need? 

One thing is for sure!

The contemporary coffee house has become a staple in the lives of many who peck away at their keyboards to earn a living because it serves a fundamental purpose.

Starbucks promotes productivity. And here’s how it all started…

As coffee culture became a 21st-century hub, Starbucks was there to accommodate. 

A Starbucks Coffee Shop EntranceCredit: Unsplash

The innovative former chairman and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, set about to make Starbucks a space between customers’ home and their workplaces. 

Starbucks was successful in becoming “home away from home” – a place for friends to meet up or couples to enjoy a cup of joe together in an unpretentious atmosphere. 

It was a beloved location for those commuting to and from work to find a spot of solace. When healthy breakfast foods and lunch items were made available, the establishment’s popularity grew even more.

Another trend shortly followed.

As more people began to ditch the traditional 9 to 5 office hours to work remotely and have flexible work schedules, Starbucks stepped up to serve them and provide much more than just java. 

Customers quickly recognized the atmosphere of the coffee houses for inciting production, getting those who once worked in their pajamas from their sofas out and about to mix and mingle with other like-minded individuals.

It wasn’t long before people took notice. They were getting more done and having fun and access to great coffee in the process.

The Legend: What Makes Starbucks So Popular among Freelancers?

In the world of business, neurosales is a thing.  The executives at Starbucks are no stranger to that fact. 

A creative artist sits in StarbucksCredit: Unsplash

What sells in today’s marketplace? 

Experience sells. 

People long for items, services, and spaces that create a pleasurable experience, and Starbucks aces that for freelancers.

What might otherwise be deemed as a boring meeting between co-workers becomes an enjoyable gathering of the minds when Starbucks is the meeting room. 

Why?

People perk up when an event becomes an experience. 

Even celebrities who have their pick of places to work from choose Starbucks for their destination.

J.K. Rowling, a world-renowned author of the Harry Potter series of books, was an avid fan of Starbucks and their pumpkin spice lattes.

It is rumored that Rowling once ordered seven of them, and the barista graciously delivered eight to her.

Not only do writers write at Starbucks, apparently, Starbucks employees write too, at least one of them.

A Starbucks barista is a best-selling author of dog books. Ken Foster joined the Starbucks team when working with dogs so he could have a flexible schedule. 

“There’s a positive pressure when you’re writing, surrounded by a mix of people,” he explained.  He went on to say that perhaps writers enjoy wanting the people around them who are ultimately in their own stories.

Famous People Who Frequent the Famous Coffee House

Freelancers and flexible workers aren’t the only ones who love their fill of Starbucks. Plenty of A-list celebrities can’t get enough of the caffeinated brews the establishment has to offer. 

Kim Kardashian, socialite and Reality Television star, has made known that she is fond of White Chocolate Mocha and Soy Chai Latte. She reportedly tops them off with a mound of whip cream.

Television host Oprah Winfrey is crazy about Teavana Cinnamon Chai Latte. The popular concoction is a thoughtful mix of black tea, rooibos, and tantalizing spices such as cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom.  A heaping helping of steamed milk tops it all off.

Singer Lady Gaga is appreciated for being different, so it is only fitting that her favorite Starbucks is not a coffee at all.  It’s a Match Lemonade.

In 2017, she took her passion a little further and, together with Starbucks, launched a collection of lemonades in original, violet, ombre, and pink and called them Cups of Kindness. 

Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Jessica Alba, Demi Moore, and oodles and gobs of other celebs have been photographed with a drink in hand, leaving Starbucks through the years. 

It seems the establishment is as popular as the stars are.

What are the Competitors of Starbucks?

Believe it or not, there are other coffee houses besides Starbucks.  Some are actually pretty good. 

They just aren’t Starbucks.

In the small ski resort town of Telluride, Colorado, chains of any kind are not allowed. Cowboy Coffee rules the roost there.  “Don’t ask for a Frappuccino,” one tourist advised. “I did, and it didn’t go over well.” 

One has to wonder if the regulations were different, would they be as successful?

Dunkin Donuts is hailed as a sweet spot to grab a coffee, but it doubtful coffee alone would float the establishment. 

McDonald’s offers coffee, cold and hot. But, generally, customers are there for the McMuffin or another food item too.

Costa Coffee and Whitbread are close contenders in the eyes of some.

For working while enjoying a cup of joe, Panera is a competitor with wifi. Still, according to a team who ended up doing a remote project there recently because Starbucks was too full,

“It just wasn’t the same as Starbucks.”

What Makes Starbucks an Ideal Office Space?

Starbucks is notorious for accommodations.  Those who work at Starbucks find it meets their needs.

Some need a work-life balance.

A laptop on a Starbucks common deskCredit: Unsplash

They find that getting out of the house promotes productivity.  

Others are there for the social aspect.  They need to meet clients or co-workers to discuss business, and what better spot than Starbucks?

Everyone is familiar with it and knows what to expect there. Besides, when you meet up at Starbucks, you don’t have to worry about cleaning your house to meet there.

Time-saving techniques are also plentiful at the famous coffee house.  Making espresso and frappuccinos are tedious tasks. Even grinding coffee grounds takes time.

Just imagine the hours it would take to please a team of workers whose preferences vary from detailed spiced teas to a stream of fancy gourmet coffees.

Starbucks has that all covered, though, and they do the cleaning up afterwards.

From cozy spots for writers to sit among each other, quietly working on their individual books, articles, and blogs to team meetings among co-workers, Starbucks delivers.

Probably the most prominent thing that makes Starbucks an ideal office space is not just that it delivers…but it manages to deliver to all under one roof

The multi-tasking establishment is pure genius from the viewpoint of remote workers everywhere.

Founders’ Vision and Company Culture:  Starbucks Welcomes Everyone

From Hollywood stars to those who scrounge in sofa cushions to afford their favorite cup of coffee, Starbucks welcomes everyone. It’s not by accident either. 

In 2017, Starbucks adopted the policy that no one gets left behind, whether they purchase anything…or not.

The change came on the heels of a disturbing incident where two black men were arrested in a Starbucks in Philadelphia. 

Initially, the establishment’s policy left the store managers to decide who could stay without purchasing. 

After the ruckus, it was made known that anyone and everyone was welcome without judgment or the requirement to purchase.

Interior Design and Lighting: Starbucks is a Cozy Office Space

The “powers that be” at Starbucks delight in going the extra mile.

From the very beginning, the place was destined to be a great place to work in because time was taken to cover all the details. It was all in the plan that the coffee house would be head and shoulders above the rest. 

They would be simply…the best.

Standardized Design and the Aesthetic Touch

The masterminding behind the Starbucks establishment is the perfect enactment of neuroselling. If you think the design planning wasn’t ingeniously thought out, you’re mistaken. 

From the simple settings that give a minimalistic air about each shop to the meticulous way the shelves that house the for-sale items are displayed, each and every touch at Starbucks is the result of ingenuity at its finest. 

Don’t be fooled. There is a psychology behind the design of Starbucks. 

The main focus is to make customers feel good about drinking their coffee and working in their shops.  It is a win-win because the better their customers feel, the more they tend to visit. 

Going Green

Have you ever noticed the coffee cups at Starbucks are recyclable?  Even the logo on them is green. Starbucks has earned the reputation of being eco-conscious.

That, of course, is no coincidence. 

Wooden Furniture

When Starbucks opened its doors in the 1970s, they had quite a job before them. Coffee was something people drank at home for the most part during those days.

Hard-core coffee drinkers dawned a to-go mug and took their steamy beverage with them on their commute to work or had a brew at the workplace.  But, very few stopped off to get a coffee and certainly didn’t entertain the idea of indulging at a coffee sit-down.

Starbucks revolutionized the way Americans drank coffee. Along with doing so came a concept.

They wanted to make people feel at home while drinking their java.  Howard Schultz conceived the concept when he visited espresso bars in Milan in 1983.

He wanted to recreate the Italian cafe experience. 

In order to bring his vision to pass, Schultz implemented comfortable furniture in the coffee houses.  He also made a statement by using solid wood furniture.  Nothing but the best would do for the customers of Starbucks.

From the excellent coffee to wooden furniture, Starbucks was determined to offer the best of the best and…still is committed to excellence.

Natural Lights

Natural lights scream…natural. Starbucks has made a name for itself by being close to nature.

The natural lights are a part of that set-up.

With the firm belief that natural light promotes a conducive workspace, Starbucks makes sure customers are exposed to more natural lighting than energy-zapping artificial lighting.

The evidence behind the benefits of using natural lighting over artificial lighting is scientifically proven, and Starbucks stops at nothing to bring the light in.

From the cost of putting in oversized windows to the expense of paying someone to clean them, the heads of the establishment are sold on the perks of natural lights.

Affordable Quality Coffee: Cross Out One More Item from Your Bucket List

What coffee lover doesn’t adore the heady aroma and tantalizing tastes of coffee beans from exotic places, like Sumatra, Italy, and practically all other coffee-growing locations? 

If you dream of sipping brew from Columbia, you no longer have to travel to Columbia to do so.  You can enjoy a cup right in your own backyard. 

Starbucks packages the experience and delivers it straight to your local establishment.  Oh, and you can buy a package to indulge in at home too.

The convenience of Location: Starbucks is Everywhere

There are certain parts of almost any city where no one wants to go because that’s where everyone is.  With Starbucks, those dreaded congested spaces can be avoided.

No need to waste your time in traffic jams or go to out-of-the-way locations. 

There’s a Starbucks right around the corner, no matter what corner you are in.

Location, location, location.  When the crew of Peace Services travels, the first thing they want to know is where the closest Starbucks to their motel is. 

“When there’s a choice of places to stay, we pick the one closest to Starbucks,” stated J. Jerabek, a Peace Services electrician. 

Starbucks is usually so plentiful, and if one is too crowded, you can opt for another one right down the road a stretch.  Or, you can elect to meet a co-worker at one that’s halfway in between the two of you. 

If you’re headed to another location after working from the coffee spot, you will likely find one that is perfect for your plans.

What are the Disadvantages of Using Starbucks as Your Office Space?

When it comes to using Starbucks as your makeshift office place, it isn’t all peaches and cream…or Sumatra and cream, if you will.

There are some drawbacks to setting up your workplace in a coffee house as opposed to doing business at a traditional office.  Some can be overcome with a bit of willpower, however.

Medical Implications of Too Much Java

Although medical experts say it would take between 50 and 100 cups of coffee ingested in a short period of time, the fact is that too much coffee can kill you. Bad coffee can indeed be toxic as well. 

In addition to the extreme scenarios, there are risks with drinking coffee on a regular basis.

Restlessness, nervousness, and insomnia are among the symptoms one can experience if they drink too much joe. 

Becoming over-caffeinated can raise cholesterol, increase high blood pressure, and can cause nausea and vomiting too.

Pregnant women should limit or avoid caffeine, and the same is true of children.

While decaf is also offered at Starbucks, the process is one that doesn’t sit well with everyone. The fact that coffee undergoes a procedure in order to become free of caffeine makes it less natural, and some bodies feel the pain. 

The Danger of Distraction: Stay Motivated and Focused

While working amongst like-minded freelancers and remote workers can be extremely motivating, it can also be distracting.

You might be diligently writing on your next best-selling book, but your buddy at the table with you may be preparing his company speech.

He just needs you to listen to it so he can make sure he’s got it down pat.

Or, you may be committed to work until you run into an old friend.  The two of you sit and talk until you suddenly discover your deadline has come and gone.

Coffee is not only good to ignite creativity in the brain. It is known to promote jabbering too. 

If you are going to successfully work at Starbucks, you’ll need to be able to focus regardless of what’s going on around you. Some children come in with their parents, and they aren’t all well behaved.

Friends giggle too loud at times, and once in a blue moon, a couple argues while sipping on steamy cups of coffee.

The best rule of thumb for working at Starbucks is to pay more attention to what you do than what others do…or don’t do.

Keep Your Budget Reasonable: Don’t be a Coffee Addict!

Too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing.  Caffeine is an addictive substance. If you don’t believe that, ask an avid coffee drinker who goes a day or two without it.

Headaches and irritation are among the symptoms one can encounter from not having their daily fix.

A coffee addiction, like any other addiction, can be expensive too.

Starbucks may be the best place to get coffee.

But, it isn’t the cheapest, ringing up anywhere from $2 to $6 per beverage (in 2021).  It won’t do you a lot of good to go to Starbucks to work if you’re blowing your income on fancy coffees and teas. 

Set a limit. Decide how much you can afford to spend on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis on your Starbucks brews.  Do the math and stick to your program.

When ordering, consider cheaper options for the fancy drinks that may be your favorites.  A cup of plain coffee runs less than an Expresso with triple shots or a Frap.

Why not allow yourself one fancy drink per day or week and fill in the gaps with a regular blend of the day?

Know Before You Go: Get Familiar with Your Coffee Hang Out

If you are going to spend a considerable amount of time at a local Starbucks, it will behoove you to familiarize yourself with everything about it, including coffee prices. 

After all, if you are going there to work, it only makes sense to analyze the financial situation.

Prices vary from Starbucks to Starbucks.

If you are located near several, choose the one that has the best prices.  Look for specials like happy hours and other incentives.  Also, think about making one grande last longer as opposed to buying two more expensive talls. 

It’s good to understand the lingo when ordering too.

One of the most confusing aspects of the famous coffee house’s menu is the size terminology.

A Grande is larger than a Tall.  It’s taller than a Tall too!  But Tall is actually the smallest of all.  And the Venti is larger than the Grande. If you want the “big gulp,” you’ll need to order the Trenta.

When in doubt, ask…or just point.

Starbucks didn’t get to where they are for giving away services.

While they do go above and beyond to offer free internet and a seat for free, even to non-paying visitors, they are smart enough to make up for it in other ways. 

Remember, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch…or a free coffee.”

One purchase of the boiled egg and nut combo covers a multitude of “squatters.” 

Extras: Do You Need Them?

When it comes to having a coffee and lunch at Starbucks, your pocketbook could easily feel the pinch.  It’s easy to get carried away while using the establishment as your workplace.

Between the cafe lattes, espressos, hot chocolates, whole-bean coffees, fresh juices, teas, brownies, paninis, tarts, sandwiches, boiled eggs, cookies, and other selections, if you go bonkers, it is possible not to break even.

After 4 p.m., you can order Starbucks wines at some locations.  Mixed drink brews are on the menu, too, at some as well. 

You don’t want to pay to work.  Then again, it’s courteous to support the hand that feeds you.  A happy medium (not to be confused with a Grande) is often the best policy.

You can allot one lunch per week and bring your own sack of goodies on the other days or indulge in an after-hours drink a few times per month.

Keeping track of your incoming and outgoing expenses is one sure-fire way to ensure you are being smart while working at Starbucks.

If you are paying for a client’s expresso and end up landing a book deal, it’s money well spent.  If you are paying for the table’s round or two of java and end up going under, you may want to reaccess your math.

Here’s a Tip…Tip!

When figuring your Starbucks budget, don’t forget to allow for tips.  Starbucks employees are some of the kindest people on the planet.  They are paid fairly but only when tips are figured in.

What goes around comes around, and karma is more likely to be sweet if you take care of those who take care of you.

Keep Tabs:  Is Your Starbucks Habit on the House?

If you are self-employed or are a freelancer and file your taxes as such, save your receipts.  You may be eligible to deduct all or part of your business expenses at Starbucks from your Gross Annual Income. 

If you are conducting business at Starbucks and you can prove it, you may be in luck.  From the morning brews to your breakfast and lunch tabs, you may be able to justify the expense after all. 

While the tax rules vary and tend to change from year to year, it’s worth checking into with your tax professional.

Build a Strong Business Network: Starbucks is an Ultimate Co-Working Space

It is up to you to make sure working at Starbucks works for you.

Making wise decisions is the key.

Seize opportunities that come your way while pulling up a chair at the remote worker’s hotspot.

One way to network at Starbucks is to socialize if that’s your personality style.

Be friendly.

Let those around you know what you do for a living.  If you are a freelance writer, make it known.  That executive sipping a cup of joe at the table next to you may need a press release or help writing his or her website content.

Keep business cards with you when you are enjoying your work from anywhere job status.

Even if you aren’t a social butterfly, you can slip your card to others who are working alongside you or even to those who are just passing through the establishment.

You never know when your forethought might pay off.  And, you’re doing your fellow worker a favor if you can provide quality service to them.

Starbucks is the most optimal place on the planet to work.  But, only if you make it work.  Like all other areas in life, you’ll get out of it what you put into it.

Coffee shouldn’t be the only thing brewing at Starbucks.

Covid-19 and Future of Starbucks as an Office Space for Remote Workers

In the recent Coronavirus pandemic, everything familiar was turned upside down.

Those who normally worked a traditional 9 to 5 day at the office were suddenly thrust into working from home. And, remote workers and freelancers who typically spent their work hours at Starbucks found themselves locked out.

Businesses, Starbucks included, are opening back up again.

Some Starbucks are still insistent that masks be worn except when eating or drinking.  Outside congregating is still preferred by many.  

But, how long will the changes be in effect?  What is the projection for things to get back to the old ways at Starbucks? Or, will a new normal become the norm?

If no other lesson has been taught by experiencing the virus, it is that no one can accurately predict the future.  It is uncertain if new strains of Covid-19 will hit and the nation will be under lockdown again or not. 

It is safe to say, however, that Starbucks shines when it comes to being a light in the darkness.

From going to great lengths to work with pandemic delivery services to an opening outside gathering spots when the city, state, and federal regulations allowed,

Starbucks found ways to keep their customers served.

Somehow, one gets the feeling they always will.  After all, at Starbucks, the cup is never half-empty…but rather, it is always half-full.

Starbucks:  Go for the Gusto…Go for the Experience

Life is what you make it.  When you make a personal decision to get all you can out of making Starbucks your office space, you’ll reap the benefits.

From being served quality coffee that ignites your creativity and unleashes your best work to rubbing shoulders with like-minded individuals who can enhance your work habits and networking circle, too, Starbucks has it all.

It is up to you, though, to experience the experience and drink it all in…one workday at a time.

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