Even before the Covid pandemic transformed office workers into a nation of folks who sit at their dining table 3 days a week in dress shirt and yoga pants, we’ve been taking our laptops to coffee shops and hanging out there for hours, working.
Today, the coffee shop is cemented permanently into our mix of alternative office spaces. Wherever you go in the United States, you see a particular breed of coffee-shop-warrior. They have ear buds in so they can’t communicate with anybody. And their gaze is so intently fixed on a screen that they’re barely aware of other humans around them.
With this almost-total-isolation, you might wonder why these folks want to be in a place like a coffee shop where there are so many distractions. Well, apparently there’s something about the buzz of coffee shops – and coffee – that is conducive to task completion.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this coffee culture started in Seattle, when Starbucks was founded, in 1971. But it actually started long before that. In the 15th Century. The home of coffee wasn’t a town called Frappuccino, but it was a city called Mocha. Mocha is the name of the port city where coffee was first exported from its home in Yemen.
Today, if you want authentic Yemeni coffee, you can find it here in New Orleans, at the Hey Coffee Company on the Lafitte Greenway. Hey Coffee imports and roasts a number of unique small batch coffees. The co-founder of Hey Coffee – and its coffee shop, Hey Café – is Greg Rodrigue.
While the coffee shop is an alternative to working at home, other than an endless supply of coffee and pastries it doesn’t have any significant advantage over your kitchen table.
Sometimes, whether you’re at home or on the road, you need more than just a flat surface for your laptop. Sometimes you need an office. And, if you’re on the other side of the desk, now that your employees are working out of the office a few days a week, you find yourself with a bunch of office space you’re paying for and not using. A new company called Workaru , founded by Clerc Bertrand, is solving all of these problems at once.
The easiest way to think of Workaru is the Air B’n’B of office space. If you have an office with empty desks, or an empty conference room, you can rent out your office space for a day or two, or an hour or two. And if you need an office space to work in, or a conference room to hold a meeting, you can find that on the Workaru app – either in advance or on the day you need it.
One of the most popular TV shows of the early 2000’s was a comedy called The Office. What made it funny was, a disparate group of people doing boring jobs for a lame company were forced into the same space for hours a day. Today, the concept of being forced into a hell-scape office to work alongside people you don’t want to deal with is seriously dated. For starters, most people aren’t stuck in a job they don’t like. These days if you don’t like your job, you quit and go get another one. Or join the gig economy.
And if you do enjoy your job, you’re not forced into an office every day. You can work from home, from a coffee shop Like Hey Café, or you can grab an office when you need it on the Workaru app.
Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. Photos by Jill Lafleur.