Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why Youth Workers should adopt a coffee shop.

"Welcome to my office."

While most people laugh at my statement about the coffee shop being my office, I'm not joking and here is why:

1. Buying a couple cups of coffee a day is a lot cheaper than rent.
Having your own space in which to work is good, but it comes with a price.  I have to fundraise for every dollar spent - I would rather buy a couple cups of coffee a day than to see donors money go towards electric bills, heating costs and rent of a space that has limited functionality.

2. The coffee is always fresh and there is a full time barista.
Have you ever gone to a meeting in someones office where it tastes like the coffee was made some time in 1999.  Of course you have to drink it to be polite.  Either that or they have to make a new pot and are gone for the first 15 minutes of your meeting time while they get the coffee ready.  I'd rather take the time to meet than to waste on coffee prep. 

3. It provides a neutral ground in which to meet
Whether it is a young person, a peer or a potential donor it is much better to select a coffee shop than to invite them to your office for a meeting.  It isn't my space or yours - so we can both be at a casual level of comfort which can help open the doors to deeper conversations in a more natural way.  The reality is if I have an office or not I would still be meeting in coffee shops.

4. It lets me interact with more people.
If I am stuck in an office all day my potential for running into a young person is severely limited.  However if I set up shop in the closest coffee shop to the school where my students attend I can see many of them throughout the day.  It also gets me in contact with other customers and the staff.  There is a greater sense of community.

5. You are not bound to one place.
The way the world functions is changing rapidly.  Many business centers are changing to an anti-office structure because of the costs and with the rise of internet hot spots people can access coworkers and documents just as readily if they are in the office next door or in two different cities. I like being able to work in various locations depending on what I need to get done and who I am planning to meet with.

All in all there are benefits and drawbacks to my methods, but it is because of stories like this: 

So what do you think is having having an "office" in a coffee shop a good plan as a Youth Worker?
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