More people than ever are becoming entrepreneurs. But not all these new business owners need a physical address. For example, digital and creative professionals often work online, rarely needing an office. Some of us work alone to service our clients, and others do remote work with companies or teams around the world.
Working independently like this, often with just a computer screen to keep you company, can be very isolating. Without the hustle and bustle of an office environment you lose out on seeing coworkers face-to-face every day. If you’re a work-from-home parent, by the end of the day you might have only seen the faces of your family.
On the flip side, one of the best parts of remote work is the freedom to work from anywhere. Even if you’ve got the perfect home office, it can be refreshing to get out and work from another venue. Coffee shops are excellent at accommodating this work-from-wherever lifestyle and becoming remote offices.
I haven’t had an office job since 2009. I’ve been working for myself as a freelancer or independent contractor. So what are my criteria for a great remote office? It’s about comfort, quiet, access to power, good coffee, reasonably priced food – and great wifi, of course. If I can support an entrepreneur’s independent coffee house, even better. After using cafes around Gaborone as remote offices for years, here’s my roundup of the best.
Avani Hotel and Casino
Best for: Central location
Their new cafe, The Pantry at Avani Hotel, has been beautifully remodelled since the Gaborone Sun days. With crisp white and black tiles adorning the eatery floor, you feel as though you could be sitting in a Parisien cafe. The wifi is ‘just okay’ but you can’t beat their location. If you need a central spot for a quick coffee meeting with a client, The Pantry at Avani Hotel is a winner.
Best for: Lunch Meetings or Kgale area residents
Let’s be honest… location is important. I spend most of my time around Broadhurst so it’s rare that I venture down to this end of town. But for friends that are in the Kgale Hill area, Cafe Dijo tops the list of remote offices. It’s such a warm, comforting, inviting space and features good, fast, unlimited but slow wifi. Since their food is some of the best in town and their tables large, Cafe Dijo is great for group meetings over lunch.
The Daily Grind
Best for: Social scene
The Daily Grind has, undoubtedly, the best coffee in town. Whatever your preference, they know how to make it. And their food… thank goodness for Great Toast! Fresh, wholesome, well-designed meals are on offer. They’ve got plenty of power points under the bench seats, and you’re welcome to put your laptop out and head down. But such a great spot will create a strong demand. The Daily Grind gets busy, so it’s not a good place to camp out for a whole morning of work. In the past their wifi wasn’t good enough for my standards, but I hear they’ve improved it. Head to The Daily Grind to see a friend, and be reassured that you’re not the only person working.
Best for: Team Working Sessions
News Cafe became my go-to workspace last year after I discovered their excellent eggs benedict. Without a doubt, the hollandaise sauce is the best in Gaborone. Family Gems uses News Cafe for weekly working sessions because we can rely on their fast wifi. We like to work on the sofas in the corner-windowed area, so that it’s brighter. If News Cafe is hosting a conference, attendees often come downstairs to this same space for lunch, so it can get very busy.
No.1 Ladies Coffee House
Best for: Meetings or working sessions with the kids in tow.
The No.1 Ladies Coffee House at Thapong in the Village is my go-to venue for new meetings or group discussions. The outdoor sofa spaces are the right size for casual business meetings. Often I’ll use this as a brunch meeting spot since their chorizo stack is excellent brain & belly fuel. And as a working parent, it’s the best coffee shop to visit if you’re looking to sneak in a few minutes of work when you’ve got the kids with you.
Sgotti at Urban Green
Best for: Focused work time
Sometimes what you need more than anything is to be able to put your head down and focus. Sgotti is an excellent venue for this. It’s open, quiet, well-designed, and the most technologically-advanced of all the venues. They understand our needs; you can choose if you’d like to be at a bench workstation, table and chairs, or sofa setup. Every workstation has USB or AC power – even in the upholstered chairs. Sgotti shares a floor with the new London College of International Business Studies (LCIBS), so we’ll need to see if it stays quiet even once they open.
There aren’t any set rules for using coffee shops as your remote office, but there are some unwritten guidelines. For instance, remember that it’s not actually your office! If it’s lunchtime and you’ve been nursing a coffee since 10am, owners might frown on you for not ordering enough. It’s not that they don’t want you there, but you are taking a seat from someone else who might want to order and ultimately, they’re still running a business.
A few other habits that coffee shop owners would prefer you avoid include holding long meetings, making loud phone calls, and staying the entire day. As a general rule, you should respect your fellow customers and the staff.
But have fun, explore the growing coffee shop scene, and talk to other people while you’re there. You might event meet a new client, too!