I’m currently sitting in Freehold in Williamsburg, Brooklyn — a co-working space coffee shop by day and trendy lounge bar/restaurant by night — participating in what appears to the latest trend — rise of the freelance culture.
As I’m sitting here across the table from my boyfriend, I look around and can’t help but notice the number of people of “working”. By working, I mean the endless scroll of Facebook newsfeed, snapping pictures of the beautiful coffee shop space, editing said photos via multiple obsessive image manipulation apps, Instagramming said photos, text messaging, and intense head bopping to earphone tunes. I immediately asked my boyfriend, “psst…what percentage of the people in here are actually working or faking it?” He says, “40% are working.” But the pessimist in me thinks quite the contrary — I say “15% are working”.
This lead to me to a series of other questions and wonderment… what exactly is everyone working on? I’m sitting here jamming on this provoked curiosity about working in a coffee shop, while my boyfriend wraps up a few reports and edits to his new video project. But what about everyone else? It appears the four guys in the table next to ours are working on their property management business venture. But what about the woman by the bar? Or the group of 6 at the table towards the entrance? What motivates us to come to this coffee shop? Why a coffee shop and why this one in particular? Why coffee shops and not libraries or our own apartments? Is everyone actually working or perhaps in search of inspiration among a community of “real” and “fake” independent workers? Is it possible that even though we’re all sitting here isolated in community we’re on a mission to fulfill a better version of ourselves? Or do co-working spaces perpetuate a contagious behavior of productivity — in other words, you see others being productive and you mimic that same behavior, thus making you productive too. Perhaps, all to similar to contagious yawning. Could it be that sitting around a coffee shop among others who appear to be working breeds a sense of competition — thus making us work harder and be more productive.
Where did we learn that coffee shops were the ideal co-working space? Who started this trend and why? What is it about coffee shops that breeds productivity, creativity and community? Could it be the smell of caffeine that injects a boost of energy to help us get the work done? Hey barista — can I get a latte with a boost of productivity, please?
These are all questions that recently popped into mind while sitting in Freehold typing this piece. I look forward to next time I work in a coffee shop and actually get these questions answered by this coffeeshop community. ‘Till then, I’ll continue to ponder on these questions and figure out my approach to getting answers from this highly concentrated & caffeinated community.