The Coffice

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Note: This blog post is repurposed from its original by Sam Title of www.TheCoffice.biz. You can read it by clicking here.

It’s been about two years since I unintentionally left Corporate America to become a white-collar migrant worker. At first, I did everything people suggested for working from a home office: I would get ready to go to work every day, I’d have “work” clothes, and tried to be disciplined. It was okay. Just okay.

But as time passed, it really got too quiet. Home officers say there are too many distractions in the house, but I don’t know if that’s what it was for me. I like to have the buzz of people about me, even if they’re not talking to me, and just be able to feed off their energy.

I needed to find places that had free wifi (although I now carry my own, thanks to Oceanic’s OCMobile), ample free parking, comfortable seating, and refreshments. A place that provides electricity is a plus, so I can stay as long as possible.

Photo by Rae Huo

Recently, though, I’ve found many other independent practitioners, all from different lines of work, doing the same thing. We get together and work, and we work hard. And in between, we’ll look up and be social for a bit, before putting our noses back to the grindstone. We’re respectful of each other’s need for concentration, but appreciate the opportunity to bounce ideas off someone with fresh perspective.

Thanks to my friend Rick Nakama, I now know that this is the global phenomenon known as The Coffice.

“Coffice” is a conjunction of the words “coffee” and “office,” a term to describe the local coffee shop that is utilized as a place for performing daily work-related tasks; a location for non-office (or occasional office) dwelling workers to create nontraditional work environments in which to conduct their business.

In the August issue of Hawaii Business magazine, Beverly Creamer wrote an article about the “new” cofficing phenomenon. Yes, that’s me on the cover, and I’m tooting my horn because I actually started my career at Hawaii Business, back when it was located on 825 Keeaumoku St. above Saigon Passion II. Who knew that I’d one day be in the magazine?

So. Here are some  fun, quirky (yet typical) scenes from my coffice, usually at Yogurstory, and some of the people I see:

A day at the Coffice

These ladies were hard core! I didn't know them, but was so impressed with their set up that I had to take a photo. This all weighed 29 pounds, and they lugged it up to the second floor of Yogurstory. Can you believe there's no scanner or printer in this set up?

Picture 1 of 9

My favorite coffice spots — all with free wifi and parking — include Yogurstory, Petals & Beans, Morning Glass Cafe, Starbucks, and client venues like Blue Hawaii Lifestyle and Good to Grill. Some friends like Glazer’s, which I’ve never been to, or Kissaten, which is open 24 hours (but the wifi situation has changed). Where do you like to coffice?

p.s. Just a note to my friends who still don’t understand that I have a job: This is my job.

48 comments
roxannedarling
roxannedarling

Love the pics @Melissa808 Maybe one of the geeks will built a list of coffices for us to find online. Or maybe we could start Google Reviewing places with the tag coffice.

RickNakama
RickNakama

@BeachBumCafe@konaish if you bring your own flasks and Bunsen Burner scientist tools. ;)

konaish
konaish

@Melissa808 I find myself cofficing here in Portland while on vacation. Alyssa's house has no internet yet, so I'm at a local coffee shop in the morning researching things to do, while sipping coffee. I kind of like it! Now I see what you,@RickNakama & @s4xton see in it.

snow
snow

it's a good thing i didn't go follow you upstairs at yogur story! lol. i would only have gone upstairs to look for the bathroom and/but i was a little curious what it looked like up there! (the food was yummy and it was nice to see you, by the way!) if i happen to see you at petals and beans, it will be because i went looking for chocolate doughnuts! lol. but, i know you're busy working... i don't get why people don't understand that by now?!?

M
M

Hello Melissa!

You have a job? What do you do? Don't you just go some place and eat? hahahaha

Cat
Cat

COFFICE! I need to work with you. You eat well. :)

nonstopmari
nonstopmari moderator

w/ all that food all ard, i don't think i can afford to coffice!

Melissa_Kim
Melissa_Kim

We love to coffice at BASH and we're usually at Yogurstory or just outside Nordstrom (but their wife wasn't working today...). I think we'll have to try out Petals & Beans!

johngarcia
johngarcia moderator

Good stuff, Melissa! Love seeing these kinds of articles! It'll be interesting to see how more people begin are mobile, independent and need shared workspace.

Really looking forward to @higreenhouse. We get access next week and will be building out over the next couple months. Hoping to see you cofficers there once in a while! :)

samtitle
samtitle

@melissa808! Could not have said it better myself! And I learned a few things from this here post:

1. We're in the same biz!
2. There are some pretty shwanky Coffices in Hawaii!
3. The Hawaii Coffice crew is one I MUST visit ASAP! (Can someone give me directions from Canada please?)

docrock
docrock

@Melissa808 I love the article! Cofficing just doesn't work for me though. It never fails.. been sitting in the seat for 20 mins or more waiting for the creative flow to kick in and nothing. Somehow, as soon as it hits me and I get the work flowing at full speed some jackass will come up to me and start the small talk. Not the realyl just saying hello but the more random BS conversations about nothing I care about and they never catch the hints they are bothering me. My Radio/Promoter career had led me to be a victim of everybody thinks they know me so they can just stop and talk to me not matter what I'm doing, but if I say I gotta go or look hurried, I'll get the dick, stuck up or douchbag label. Starbucks is my worst enemy to my productivity. This is why we are working so hard on the Higreenhouse.com project. We will have policies about interrupting people. Coworking is still working but cofficeing makes people think they can overshare and be social when your are trying to work. I'm curious as to how you deal with the distraction human or otherwise.

RKHewEsq
RKHewEsq

Awesome article! Cofficing is great! Meeting new people, getting work done, and eating good fun. All around win. The only thing though is there needs to be a coffice space here that has good chocolate donuts!

MyongChoi
MyongChoi

Great article and I find "cofficing" to be very interesting!

I was always curious though, the restaurants don't mind you taking their table space for lengthy periods of time? Especially a place as busy as Yogurstory?

WeHeartHawaii
WeHeartHawaii

Are you sure you're working @Melissa808? That picture of Petals & Beans has you logged into Facebook?! :D

samtitle
samtitle

@roxannedarling @Melissa808 I have a HUGE spreadsheet here that I'm planning on using in some fashion on thecoffice.biz. But I need to work on that first...my inner geek isn't geeky enough, dagnabbit!

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@snow haha too funny....yeah, many of my offline friends don't understand what I do. They think "freelancing" means I work for "free."

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@M you are SO gonna get it!!! But that is a big challenge for me....a lot of people think I don't do anything all day or think my job is eating. As @docrock talks about below, people stop to talk (if I pick the wrong place to go) and think I have an hour to kill shooting the breeze when I'm actually on deadline!

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@Cat We try not to eat too much! Although there was that time I brought wine...

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@Melissa_Kim let me know when you guys coffice, maybe I'll join you (at least on another table)! I should add you to our listserve. also maybe @RickNakama can add you to his Google + circle. :)

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@MyongChoi actually, that's why these places are listed. They let us stay as long as we want. Yogurstory sees one of us coming and will tell us if our coffice friends are already upstairs! At Blue Hawaii Lifestyle, the chairs aren't as comfy but if you're like me, you'll sit there anyway. And if you sit long enough, they give samples (extras of the day). I'm guessing, though, on super busy days, these places may start having to impose restrictions. But for now, they're cool.

The only place I know of where taking table space has become a problem is Kissaten. I think they started out as an unlimited spot, but my friends don't like to coffice there as much anymore because there are many conditions under which they are able to sit there.

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@s4xton OMG I love your list!!! Can you add places to it or is it set in stone?

johngarcia
johngarcia moderator

@Melissa808@higreenhouse Yes! It'll be interesting to see the dynamic between @thecoffice crowd and more formalized coworking spaces. Let's just hope the coffee shops continue to embrace the cofficers! Thanks for sharing!

samtitle
samtitle

@docrock I can relate to your colorful (<~love) depiction of how challenging it can be to focus on work at the Coffice. I get interrupted all - the - time. Sometimes it's welcome...most time...not so much.

It seems as though Melissa and her Co-Cofficers have a comfy rhythm and inherent understanding of eac others' need to concentrate for extended periods - but I'm sure they also have their issues. {I've seen the Twitter chats amongst the 808 Cofficers...whew! Right Rick?}

MY solution to that is pretty simple and it seems to work for now...except on my wife and kids...earbuds - headphones - eargear - whatever. And the more noticeable the better. Get a pair in white or as neon yellow as your show laces in 1986.

And whatever you do...don't look up too often...people smell chat opportunities like mothers-in-law sense bullshit...

Good luck @docrock

Sam Title@TheCoffice
(natch!)

MyongChoi
MyongChoi

@Melissa808 I get my haircut right next to Petals and Beans. If I see you there, I'll be sure to say hello...and I promise to keep it short! ^_^

daubelatti
daubelatti

@Melissa808 Ditto to MyongChoi's comment. Nice to see Yogurstory is open to cofficing. I don't coffice much b/c of keiki, but when I get the "free" moment it is nice to be able to get some work done on the fly. With both legal and legislative work being very portable, I could see myself doing a lot more cofficing.

s4xton
s4xton

@Melissa808 If you follow the list and a friend of mine, you can add. So have at it!!

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@samtitle@docrock@thecoffice I can sympathize, which is why I have different coffice spots. I mean, Yogurstory is the most convenient for me so I do go there the most, but if there are too many cofficers, it's possible to have too many interruptions. @RKHewEsq has a good solution; he will show up to coffice but will take another table to signal that he absolutely must crank out a 150-page document by today.

@samtitle is correct, we have a groove going at Yogurstory, so in our case, it's OK. Even the chats with @RickNakama are—believe it or not—work related. He feeds me a lot(!!!) of leads for my Honolulu Magazine blog.

For me, if I need to get out of the house but want to be left alone, I'll probably go to @petalsandbeans . Fewer seats, fewer people, much quieter. @bluehilifestyle is a similar alternative, but you do run the risk of higher foot traffic.

It's been a trial-and-error process. I've learned which places I need to avoid for cofficing because even when I tell the people, "Hey, I'm on deadline, so I really can't talk now," they still hang out and keep talking to me! There are certainly places like that and, as much as I want to support the business, I can't go there anymore unless I'm just there to socialize. :(

tokidote
tokidote

@Melissa808@RickNakama@s4xton It's super embarrassing especially since its my "office" phone and so I have to keep apologizing to clients. My call will drop after a few minutes, then it'll keep doing that, every few minutes making a decent conversation all but impossible. On the maps my home is on the borderline of coverage, just outside of "good" zone, sucks.

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@tokidote@RickNakama@s4xton I also get terrible AT&T reception on my phone at home. It's so embarrassing when I have to warn people ahead of time that the call might drop.

roxannedarling
roxannedarling

@s4xton@Melissa808 Brilliant - thanks! Now one of these days this will all be automated so that when someone checks in and posts a comment with the tag #coffice, the list is auto-updated. :-) Put those bytes to work!

tokidote
tokidote

@Melissa808@RickNakama@s4xton I too avoid this comment system, I usually get an error or a blank page =(

Like Rick said, I coffice from Starbucks for about 6-7 hours a day. Usually 4 hours in the morning, have lunch somewhere, then back till 4pm. I've developed a slew of strategies to be effective and comfortable while working. There are not a whole lot of disadvantages and a ton of advantages to working at a Starbucks. Most friends that walk in assume I'm just playing around. Most folks joke and think I'm just goofing off but I can be super productive at the coffice and manage to run my entire business from it. Phone calls are the only issue like Rick mentioned. I usually queue up my calls and make them during lunch time when I'm at home and its quiet although I don't get AT&T reception from my home in Manoa, grr!!!!

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

@RickNakama@s4xton@tokidote This is true. Fortunately (?) I am on AT&T, so the odds of me ever being able to talk on the phone are virtually nil. In all seriousness, I do like to coffice with at least one other person for this reason—to be able to leave my stuff to either take a call, or use the bathroom.

RickNakama
RickNakama

@s4xton @Melissa808 OK let's see if I can get this comment to work. I admit, I've been avoiding this comment system for a while, but since it's nonstop's birthday or something, I'll try again.

I thought Facebook is work @Melissa808!? Hahaha. Yes distractions can be difficult to deal with, but that's 1 reason why I use Manoa Starbucks frequently. It's so crowded there that the odds of someone you know coming in and ending up sitting by you to chat is unlikely because the seats are usually occupied. @tokidote also uses that location as his main coffice.

I also like people to feel comfortable to meet me there. Coffices are "public" venues that someone could just drop by to chat about something. This is also an important part of my business as a Realtor. Friends or acquaintances who may have questions about real estate might not necessarily want to make a more formal feeling appointment at my actual office. The cafe venue allows the meeting to feel more like casual conversation for us. Of course, the downfall is when dealing with confidential matters. I often find it difficult to make certain types of phone calls while seated in a coffice. These situations usually result in me having to leave my computer and stuff and step outside to have the phone conversation.

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