I’m a big advocate of family dinners. I hear over and over again the importance of sitting down together as a family and talking about the day. Even if it’s pizza at my house for dinner, we sit down and eat together and talk about our favorite parts of the day.
I’ll also admit that we got out to eat a lot (and have the waistlines to prove it). With our hectic lives, we’re often out of anything convenient to cook or frankly, we just don’t feel like cooking. When we go out to eat, we seem to lose the family dynamic and find that my husband and I are guilty of pulling out our phones and just checking one thing.
More and more, it’s hard to leave our connectivity behind, or at least put it on hold. We make a conscious effort to put our phones down and away when it comes to meal time. Yes, it’s a little sad that we have to make a conscious effort but it’s the truth. And it’s probably not just our truth either.
Connectivity has become such a big part of our personal and professional lives. More and more of us are working from home. Whether we’re searching for a job as our full-time job (you’ll find a lot of these people at the library), or working independently (raising hand), or work virtually for an established company (my husband), more and more of us are relying on laptops and wifi for our daily existence.
Recently, I established a new routine of working outside of the home while my son is at preschool. It has surprisingly increased my productivity. I find that I’m in a new environment with less distractions and my focus is greatly improved.
My biggest quandary these days is where to spend that time.
I enjoy working at the local library that offers free, but unsecured, wireless connectivity. The power outlets are plentiful as are the tables and chairs. But after a while, the chair is a little too hard for my taste, the storytime kids are a little too loud for my concentration, and the people at my table talking on their cell phones… well, that’s just annoying.
I’ve tried the local coffee houses. Most offer free wifi and comfy chairs. I may spend too much money on tea and pastries, though, and usually come out smelling of coffee.
Today, as I rushed out of the house, I didn’t have time for breakfast and thought I wanted someplace close to his school where I can get breakfast and work. Bagels immediately came to mind and I set out looking for a good bagel shop nearby with wifi.
I found the bagel shops. No atmosphere. No wifi. So I went with my last resort. I headed to McDonald’s. In the back of my mind, I was calculating how an Egg McMuffin is technically healthier than a bagel with cream cheese. I knew I could be guaranteed free wifi (available at all McDonald’s). And for just over $3, I sat down with my Diet Coke and Egg McMuffin ready to get to work.
The most surprising part is that the interior is nicely and subtly decorated. The seats are quite comfortable. Power outlets are available under many tables. And drink refills are free.
I’m not suggesting that everyone rush out and spend their days at McDonald’s. What I am suggesting is that the little establishment take a few cues from the big guys. For better or worse, behemoths like Starbucks and McDonald’s have developed business practices to make them successful.
Not every cafe and coffee shop needs to cater to every single laptop out there but understanding the new workforce can help make small changes that results in a new breed of diners.
If you have a flexible work environment, where are your favorite places to work outside the home or office?