Petiquette in coffee shops

Petiquette at Ezra & Gil

As you likely guessed from previous posts, I’m not a dog person at all. I’ve been bitten too many times and are generally nervous around them. But I get there are people who love their dog like its their family members (ok I do find that odd).

But I find dogs in cafes questionable.

I have seen dogs on seats, chairs and table tops. Witnessed and left as they have barked the place down, attacked each other, seen them walking around loose with no lead. Its seriously not a place where I feel comfortable and I’m sure others feel the same; even the dog lovers.

This is why I was impressed to see Ezra & Gil’s #Ezrapetiquette (even if it looks like Ez-rape?).

  1. Ensure your dog is housetrained.
  2. Your dog is well behaved & can sit, stay & come on command.
  3. Your dog is kept on a lead at all times.
  4. Make sure your dog doesn’t disturb other customers.
  5. Your dog is kept on a floor & away from food.
  6. Your dog is not anxious & uncomfortable around people.
  7. Pack waste bags incase of any accidents,
  8. Dog Lovers – please ensure you ask owners permission before petting their dogs.

This might seem very obvious, but like many conferences include a code of conduct. Some people need a little reminder and theres got to be a clear expression of whats accepted and not. Dogs on tables and chairs wouldn’t be accepted if I was writing one.

Following my partners dog bite in the hotel, I re-read the dangerous dogs act again, and found this part very interesting.

Under the Act, it’s illegal for a dog to be ‘out of control’ or to bite or attack someone. The legislation also makes it an offence if a person is worried or afraid (the term is ‘reasonable apprehension’) that a dog may bite them. So it’s important to ensure that your dog is kept under control at all times and in all places.

Something to remind dog owners of as I head for the door next time.

Working from the Northern Quarter Fridays

Coffee from North Tea Power

I blogged about how I started working out of the northern quarter quite sometime ago, the massive benefits and the Coffee shop clashes. A lot of people have taken this as “Ian is off on Fridays.” Which is so far from the truth…

A while ago I started using Project Hamster to record roughly how much time I was spending on projects (as I tend to have quite a few projects on the go at the same time, who doesn’t?)

Anyhow, I had a look at the aggregated results recently when sending to my manager (this is not the official way bbc rd does time tracking by the way, just me).

Project hamster results

It turns out Fridays are one of my most productive days, even more that Mondays and Thursdays.

Now I know what some of you will be thinking, yes its all manual reporting and I could lie, but why? Its as simple as this. When working from the northern quarter I tend to spend much more time just working away on my laptop. Its no chance this is when I spend the most time writing papers and the like too.

The second thing you might notice is I don’t work 8hour a day. Project hamster checks every 20mins to see if I’m actually active on the machine, so if I get called into a meeting or go for lunch, it will automatically stop. Generally when working from the Northern Quarter, I get less distributed or distracted.

This can be a good and bad thing. You can see the lack of disruption as a good thing but actually its the bouncing around of ideas at work which can be good, for example running into someone at the kitchen and talking for a while. Of course Project Hamster will time out and say I’m up to nothing. And actually its worth pointing out that all meetings (official/adhoc) are not included because its still time when not working actively working on the computer. As you can imagine I’m quite a social person and those adhoc chats over tea do add up.

Its not that I work better in the northern quarter, its that I work differently!

Lifehacker has another great post about working out of coffee shops. Here’s the key parts for myself…

A change of environment stimulates creativity. Even in the most awesome of offices we can fall into a routine, and a routine is the enemy of creativity. Changing your environment, even just for a day, brings new types of input and stimulation, which in turn stimulates creativity and inspiration.

Agreed… I’m not saying Media City isn’t inspiring and full of creativity. But its my norm and if I have to look at that wallpaper again I’ll scream 🙂 Of course I’m joking…

Fewer distractions. It sounds counter-intuitive, but working from a bustling coffee shop can be less distracting than working from a quiet office. Being surrounded by awesome team and officemates means being interrupted for water cooler chats and work questions. Being interrupted kills productivity. The coffee shop environment combines the benefit of anonymity with the dull buzz of exciting activity. Unlike working at home, with the ever-present black hole of solitude and procrastination, a coffee shop provides the opportunity of human interaction, on your terms.

The evidence is all in the data. I actually have lots of less important meetings on Fridays but their under my terms. Meaning I can get lots done in the time between.

Community and meeting new people. Meeting new people always provides me with new ideas, a different perspective at existing problems, or an interesting connection to a new person doing something awesome that inspires me. Today alone I met a top Skillshare teacher whose class I will now take, a sleep consultant, a publicist who offered to help with a project, and a wine consultant who recommended some bars.

One thing I wish I could record is the little meetings and chats I have. Some go nowhere and some go real deep. But generally meeting in the northern quarter means I can get a measure of someone and then refer them to a proper media city meeting or not. And of course there’s those chance encounters which you just can’t qualify an amount of value.

End of the day its not for everyone, but it works for me. Its surprising because I do love my height adjustable desk and fancy media city chair. FYG and North Tea power’s tables are too low and I do sometimes feel the discomfort setting in. But I tend to not notice because I’m just working or talking with someone great. If I had to work from the northern quarter 4 days a week and one day in Media City, I know I would be saying the opposite.

This is all summed up in the lifehacker post,

The experience of working out of coffee shops was so positive that even after we moved into our new home, I made sure to get in a few “coffee shop days” each month. For carpal tunnel related reasons alone, I would not recommend working out of coffee shops every day…

Coffee shop culture clash

Coffee from North Tea Power

I wrote a while ago about working most Fridays from coffee shops in the northern quarter of Manchester instead of working out of my home.

However someone at work pointed me to this blog post from a guy who is complaining about people treating coffee shops like there personal offices.

Dickheads with cups of coffee so dry they were probably ordered three hours ago. Dickheads reading the tea leaves in their empty glasses. Dickheads with just some free water.

Dickheads with absolutely no sign of having consumed anything except some three-week old canned tomato soup stains on their emo punk pop hip hop band t-shirts, the ones that proved they were at that concert nobody else gave a shit about.

One of them even had the pierced balls to get a banana out of this bag and proceeded to eat it as he scribed the novel he’s never going to publish, looking at his Samsung Galaxy III—iPhones are so passé—at the same time.

And here I was, (delicious) coffee in hand, waiting for my sandwich, with nowhere to eat it. And I wasn’t alone—there were two more people like me. While I waited, three more people came in, and, after looking around fruitlessly for five minutes, left without ever touching ass to chair. I didn’t need telepathic powers to read their minds. DICKHEADS.

To be honest I found the whole thing pretty funny but I do get what he sometimes means. I personally buy and spend too much money at coffee shops including FYG, North Tea Power and Vivid Lounge. So I would agree with all the points the writer makes…

  1. Buy at least a coffee. Don’t just go ahead and sit there with your computer. If you do the latter, I hope your genitals drop rotten into the toilet bowl one day.
  2. When you are done with your coffee—it’s ok, take your time, as long as you do it at some reasonable pace—you can stay around for five minutes. Perhaps ten. Then leave.
  3. If you want to stay longer, buy another coffee. A pastry would be fine too. Perhaps a sandwich. Anything. Whatever. But keep buying things. This is the rent you pay. It’s much less than getting your own office. Or a real apartment.

However I still don’t like places which go out of there way to restrict laptop users.

In Manchester when I first arrived, Teacup and Drip Coffee was a great place to enjoy a chat, read and catch up with some work. Now they both seemed to turn hostile on computer users by taping up plug sockets, messing with the wifi and general snobbery of laptop users. In Teacup you need to be shown a place which makes it too formal for my own liking. But fear not others have stepped in to fill the void.

Interestingly North Tea Power not only fills the void but takes customer service to another level, really encouraging laptop users… Love those guys!