When I first read ProfessionGal’s blog post about a growing “workstyle” phenomenon for independent workers, I was all up in arms getting ready to protest a crucial missing component to her blog. Okay, I wasn’t really up in arms, per se. But I did want to point out the missing piece of the phenomenon. So after catching up on a few episodes of Dexter and Homeland I posted a response.
Imagine my surprise and delight when ProfessionGal responded by asking me to guest blog for her. “Heck yes!” After a few emails back and forth (one involving a discussion about pantyhose), I had my angle. I decided I would talk to ProfessionGal’s readers about something spectacular they’ve created – let’s call it a “secret club” – but from a man’s point of view.
We men (a.k.a., non-members) just call this club “the world of the independent working woman”. And we men do notice how you maintain near indestructible networks that even your corporate cubicle dwelling colleagues don’t understand. It’s an unspoken bond you all share that, frankly, is downright impressive and inspiring, if not somewhat intimidating. Once upon a time, some of us non-members thought that perhaps you were getting your directives from Sex and the City…but the series finale and movies threw us off that scent!
Nowadays it’s easy for you to stay connected and informed. You read the blogs (like ProfessionGal’s), “Like” the Facebook pages, follow Tweeps, and join other online communities where you share tips or “secrets to success” that allow you to juggle your roles as busy independent working women. Secrets often involve time management tricks, multitasking skills, motivational techniques, proper work attire, counter espionage training and much more.
But get this: I’ll bet you didn’t know that your secret club of independent working women contains another element – a splinter group whose intentions are not to be subversive. Truth is, they are gradually realizing their very existence. This so-called secret element I’m referring to is an international phenomenon. Some of you reading this may already be members. Many of you are not. But that’s okay. There’s always room.
Joining this secret international splinter group is more about self-discovery after sitting down to work near another like-minded member. In most cases, you could probably relate to that person because she took a familiar path to membership. You know this because it was your path too.
In case you’re hearing this for the first time, see if you can relate (or if you’d like to):
Despite having a home office complete with everything you need for work, you’ve tried everything in your power to make a go of it. The problem is, it’s tough to jumpstart your day when you’re still wearing your comfy jammies and favorite slippers, the dog is being a bigger diva than a Beyonce/Celine hybrid, and if your nosey neighbor knew you worked from home she’d never let you get anything done. You love your work, but not the baggage that comes with working from home. You need a change; a place somewhere between a cubicle and your living room. Where do you go?
You pack up your laptop and everything else you need for work, and you head out to the closest, most convenient coffee shop. You set yourself down at a table, buy your favorite beverage, plug in your laptop and get down to it.
This is the global splinter group I was talking about. It’s known as The Coffice – it makes your home office seem like last night’s bad idea and the mere thought of a high-rise cubicle even worse.
“Coffice” is a conjunction of the words “coffee” and “office”; a term to describe the local coffee shop that is utilized as a place for performing daily work-related tasks; a location for non-office (or occasional office) dwelling workers to create non-traditional work environments in which to conduct their business.
Members of the splinter group of independent working women who may already frequent the Coffice are known as Cofficers. And as Cofficers, you are part of a community of professionals (not just women) that is growing by leaps and bounds the world over, yet is largely misunderstood by the masses.
Non-Cofficer colleagues, family members and friends don’t realize that, like getting off the elevator in a downtown high-rise, Coffice devotees are on a first-name basis with all the people who work at their regular spots – they are the Coffice staff – including the managers, baristas, and many of the other Cofficers there. Outsiders would be shocked at the amount of networking actually done at The Coffice – and the business opportunities brought by that networking.
Veteran Cofficers have nearly perfected their Coffice experience. They shrug off and occasionally chuckle at the bewildered, sometimes judgmental glances from caffeine-starved customers buying their lattes before rushing downtown to full-time cubicles and glassed-in corner offices.
The managers, VPs, directors and C-suite key holders dubiously staring at the sea of laptops have no idea what Cofficers are about. They’re clueless as to the level of thought and strategy that goes into choosing a Coffice location. They’d be amazed at how much work goes into packing briefcases and laptop bags with the Cofficer’s tools.
If Cofficers actually sat down with all of these people and explained how the Coffice infrastructure is harnessed to our professional advantage – sometimes with robotic precision – laptop sales would boom, wifi use would explode and maybe…just maybe…stress management programs, seminars, and professionally-focused self-help books would become near obsolete.
In lieu of miracles happening, it’s time for the pashmina of mystery shrouding the Coffice to be yanked off; with a flourish, no doubt. (Not the pashmina you keep by your desk for those chillier than usual days or when your building’s A/C is on for no apparent reason. No, no. Keep that one on! Those goose bumps won’t go down themselves…)
To all of you current Cofficers, the next time you’re in a Coffice and spot someone giving you a puzzling glance, send her to ProfessionGal’s site so she can read what you’re reading now. Welcome the tentative and confused working woman and make it known to her that the Coffice community continues to grow as fast as her shoe collection!
If you happen to spot a co-Cofficer, someone who also happens to belong to the other secret club, please remember to use the proper secret signal. I’d tell you what it is, but that’s part of the fun of being in a secret club.
So now that you know you may not just be incredible independent working women, you may also be incredible Cofficers, I welcome you to The Coffice! Please pass it on!
Sam Title is not only a dedicated Cofficer, but Chief Executive Cofficer of The Coffice. Based in Toronto, Canada, when not writing about The Coffice or building his Coffice community, he is a marketing communications professional working on various client engagements, a dad to two beautiful daughters (secret club members in training) and the husband of one of your members. She’s often referred to as Wonder Woman (seriously!). You can find him at: email@example.com; http://www.facebook.com/thecoffice; http://www.twitter.com/thecoffice; and http://www.thecoffice.biz.
Please note: Sam’s moustache is not ironic – it was a Movember photo update. As well, no pantyhose were harmed in the writing of this blog – ask his wife.
* For more insight into the lives of female Cofficers, read below as two of Sam’s friends answer these questions:
- How do you prepare when you know you’re going to be spending a day working from a Coffice? What do you take with you in your bag?
- What advice/words of wisdom would you give to independent working women who want to give The Coffice a try?
Brooke Miller, Cofficer
I bring everything and beyond with me to the Coffice! I often leave some things in the car and trade out if I get a project done, but it’s way easier to be prepared. I also pack a lunch — if I spend money on a coffee, then the people at the Coffice are usually really cool with me having my own endless snacks for the day. I also NEVER forget my headphones. Sometimes it’s nice not to listen to music, but the second “that guy/girl” sits down — you know, the one who thinks it’s okay to have an hour-long conversation on the phone right next to you — it’s torture without the headphones.
Make nice to the baristas — they are your new Coffice-mates. You want them on your side. And they’ll watch your computer like a hawk while you go to the restroom. Plan on not talking on the phone. It’s really rude and you don’t want to develop a reputation. Step outside if you need to make a call. Don’t wear your business attire! Kick off your heels and wear something comfortable. You want to feel professional and good about yourself, but the Coffice isn’t a nightclub. Seriously.
Brooke Miller is an advice columnist, a licensed psychotherapist and the founder of Soapbox Therapy (http://www.soapboxtherapy.com), a unique portal into the world of emotional health, offering a new approach to emotional wellbeing, connecting a fresh perspective and modern voice to mental health while maintaining respected and traditional wisdom.
Laurie Davis, Cofficer
Most days I transition from meetings at the Coffice to a cocktail party, so I either need a stellar day-to-night outfit or time to head home and change in between events. This naturally means that my bag often doubles as a treasure chest of cocktail rings, bobby pins and eyeliner…and on more than one occasion, I could have definitely won a ribbon for Best Dressed, Starbucks Edition.
Other must haves in my bag: headphones so I can change up the background music or watch videos, my USB modem in case the Internet is sluggish, a bottle of water to keep hydrated, and a notebook in case I need to take a brainstorming session to the meta level.
When choosing a Coffice, go for ambiance over utility. Different environments can give new inspiration. While you may just need to get out of the house, it’s much more exciting when you choose a locale for a fresh perspective, too.
Laurie Davis is the founder of eFlirt Expert (http://www.eflirtexpert.com), a service that helps singles establish the ultimate virtual first impression and transition their digital selves to meaningful, in-person dating experiences.