It's a dream—the small-business owner's vision of a burbling espresso maker, the soft hum of cappuccino-fueled conversation and a laptop from which you can get all the day's work done.
It's the coffee shop as office. Or the coffice, as it were.
But anyone who's sallied forth to the local barista's station with a stack of deliverables under one arm and a latte and a scone in their hands knows the challenge is to stay productive when the setting is so alluring.
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Mobility is one thing. Staying connected and on top of the day's tasks is another. You have to be aware of the realities of the coffice and know how to keep your to-do list buzzing over that brilliant cup of Kona.
4 Tips for Coffice Productivity
Mike Pugh, a small-business expert who specializes in making small businesses and independent contractors super productive while on the go, sees the coffice as a practical place for getting things done. Here are his four tips for maintaining office-level productivity in your coffice:
1. Stay Connected.
Customers or clients are the lifeblood of any business, so remaining accessible is essential. Cloud-based phone apps give you a professional business-class phone system on your smartphone, tablet or laptop. The best kind of apps let you route incoming calls made to your business number directly to another phone, including your mobile phone, while offering call screening, conference calling, voice-mail transcription and a virtual personal assistant that can keep you organized. You can even have all your phone numbers consolidated to a single virtual number that will allow callers to find you wherever you might be.
2. Keep Paperwork Moving.
In the same vein, working at a coffice doesn’t mean you have to be near a fax machine to send or receive important documents securely. Internet fax apps let you send and receive documents, such as contracts or purchase orders, from your mobile device and even allow you to edit, sign and forward documents right from your cafe table. Missed faxes are a thing of the past. Faxed documents are delivered directly to you via email attachment on your mobile device wherever you’re working.
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3. Meet in the Middle.
Meeting with clients at the coffice has its advantages. You lose the intimidation factor of walking into a corporate setting, a journey in and of itself. Meeting on neutral turf in the coffice can help put clients at ease.
4. Stop Scrounging for Change.
Working from the coffice doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it can save you money. Internet fax apps save you money on paper, toner and fax machine repairs, and don’t require a landline for connectivity. VoIP (Voice Over IP) calls can even be made over the coffice’s free WiFi, saving you precious cell phone minutes and data charges. And what can you do with that extra budget? More coffee and scones, of course.
James O'Brien's work can be found at Mashable, OPEN Forum, TheAtlantic.com and elsewhere. He writes about media, business and tech. James blogs via Contently.com.
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