Office space is expensive. Why pay to keep all of your employees in the building when there are perfectly good areas right nearby with plenty of desks (well, tables), plentiful wireless Internet, and someone always puts on a new pot of coffee? What we’re saying is that some businesses are kicking employees out and sending them to Starbucks.
Because we in the word-slinging business like to sit around staring at our navels, the most notable examples of this have been news outlets. It makes sense: instead of paying to maintain suburban bureaus, why not station employees in suburban chain restaurants? The Arizona Republic did just that recently, encouraging community reporters who no longer have fixed desks to camp out at Starbucks or McDonald’s. As a bonus, it forces the workers to change out of their pajamas, and local people who might have some news to share know that they can find the reporter in a public place.
Would this work in other fields? Coffee shops and fast-food places are a refuge for freelance workers and business travelers, but we don’t see kicking employees out becoming a trend anytime soon. Even among office jobs, they aren’t all suited to getting kicked out. You couldn’t really do call center work, and any job that requires a lot of yapping on the phone would really annoy people.
The businesses themselves welcome it. They aren’t about to kick out paying customers as long as the tables don’t need to be turned over and those remote office workers are behaving themselves. “While there isn’t a specific policy about customers working from our stores, Starbucks strives to provide a welcoming experience with a focus on maintaining a welcoming atmosphere for all of our customers,” a Starbucks spokeswoman told Businessweek in a very welcoming manner.