I live 2,912 miles from the office. Understandably, I don't make it in every day—mostly I telecommute. And, because I like to see more of the world than my kitchen, that means a lot of cafe working.
I've got a circuit of places I like to hit over the course of a week—I call it the coffee shop crawl. Some spots are bustling and energetic, some are quiet and solemn. I usually plug in my headphones, hop on the ol' Infobahn, and melt the day away rearranging words. Yesterday, I couldn't get focused—one of my tablemates was enthusiastically talking about her company's product with another entrepreneur (ah, San Francisco...), and I got to thinking: Is this appropriate? Since almost everyone here is trying to work, shouldn't people be quiet in coffee shops?
To answer this question, I did what any person whose main contact with the outside world (other than coffee shops) was a faceless dialogue via electronic communication media would do: I asked the Internet. And the Internet answered back.
Nobody took issue with my assumption that, in the Age of Telecommuting, coffee shops are the collective office of the remote workforce, the common corporate HQ of struggling startups. But hardly anyone thought that there was any behavioral expectation besides keeping your pants on and sharing the outlet with that day's coworkers.
Those of you who answered, you are the authorities on this particular subject, because you are the ones using these caffeine brothels as your workplaces. And in an amazing turn of circumstance, one of the people who answered was the very person who inspired this question (thanks Maria!).
So lesson learned: Coffee shops are not libraries. They're not temples of work. They're coffee shops. Duh.