Is it a coincidence or is there some sort of symbiotic relationship happening between the rise of freelancers and the popularity and growth of Starbucks? Would freelancers find a solution in Starbucks’ office.
In an increasingly virtual work world, an estimated one-third of U.S. workers — more than 42 million men and women — no longer report to traditional 9-to-5 jobs. Instead they belong to a growing freelance segment of the labor force, an often skilled class of career jugglers and independents who get income from contract gigs, projects, part-time jobs, temp work, moonlighting and consulting. Freelancers fill the gap that corporate America no longer wishes to cover with full-time salaried employees. This growth is evident at the nonprofit Freelancers Union, which offers health insurance and resources for independent workers, and has seen its membership increase to nearly 200,000 since New York lawyer Sara Horowitz founded the organization in 1995. (“Freelancer growth giving rise to ‘slasher’ careers, NBC News Oct 18, 2012).
When Sara Horowitz was asked what’s changed since 1995?
She answered, “When I first started Freelancers Union, the term “freelancer” was often seen as a euphemism for unemployed. But every day, more and more people are choosing to go freelance. They like the ability to choose how they live their lives — what gigs they take, what hours they work, what passions they follow. There has been a societal shift. For millions of people, joining the freelance community is the first step to meaningful independence.” (“The Freelance Economy: Millions of Entrepreneurs – and a Vital Social Venture”, Forbes, Dec 13, 2012).
Something amazing was also occurring in 1995….The emergence of the Starbucks model. In fact, coffee consumption between 1995 and 2000 had skyrocketed 700% and since 2000 there is no signs of it stopping. (“How Coffee Changed America”, National Geographic, Jan. 19, 2012).
Starbuck, our personal favorite here at workhoppers.com, has about 18,000 stores world-wide of which roughly 13,000 are in North America. The Company will open an additional 1300 stores in fiscal 2013. Starbucks holds the biggest share of the country’s coffee market with 18.7 percent of revenue, according to IBIS World (Reuters, “Cash brews robust U.S. craft coffee market”). As coffee shops spread across the world and numbers of them continue to increase so do the numbers of freelancers using them.
Freelancers, in general do not have a typical office to go to. Is Starbuck’s office a solution for them? They may choose to rent a shared space but this can be expensive. More often than not they tend to work from home. Working from home saves time and money by not having to commute. It is very important for a freelancer to try to make their workspace as comfortable as possible. But, no matter how comfortable it is to work from home it can often be quite isolating at times, especially if you do not see anyone all day. The freelancer is often in search of a change of scenery. The library is a great resource. Being surrounded by books and knowledge can be inspiring. The library is also a quiet place to work and concentrate. But an even more popular place to find freelancers is the coffee shop!
Coffee shops are a favorite work space for the Freelancer and there are many reasons for this:
1- The coffee shop provides good coffee and food.
2- Less expensive to buy a coffee and snacks every day than to rent an office or co-space
3- Access to Free Wireless internet and outlets to charge your laptop
4- Other freelancers to network with and share experiences
5- Friendly and welcoming staff
6- Change of scenery and even sometimes a terrace, and some sunshine!
We at workhoppers.com often use our local Starbucks to host meetings. This week we visited a new Starbucks that looked completely different from any one we had seen before. We were very excited, it was beautiful and seemed to be designed with the freelancer in mind! Something we could almost call Starbucks’ office. There was an open feeling and large long tables to share and spread your work space out, next to that area, in the back of the store, were comfy booths for conversations. Freelancers and entrepreneurs, like us, are grateful to the coffee shop owners who have created spaces that are often conducive to conduct business or work. This got us thinking about the relationship between us and coffee shops, how can we most efficiently manage our time and remain good customers.
The best time to conduct work at your local coffee shop is when it is not too busy and noisy. Once you enter the door, strategically choose a seat near the wall, facing the window. This way no one can snoop at your lap top and see what your writing and the sun will not glare onto your screen. Bring your headsets if conversations distract you. Don’t forget to bring your business cards as there are great networking opportunities there. This being said, show your appreciation to the coffee shop owners by only taking up one spot. If the shop gets busy and people are waiting for a seat, once you have finish your coffee, go outside and let others sit down. Don’t be a squatter, spend 2-3 hours maximum a day at the coffee shop. And for heaven’s sake order something!
So as both the number of coffee shops and the number of freelancers continue to rise and this partnership continues to grow, we can think of each other’s needs, support one another and together achieve success!
Gotta go get my dry cappuccino with very little milk and lots of foam…..