The Second Space: How Starbucks Became an Office Space

The Second Space: How Starbucks Became an Office Space
When I first started working as a remote writer, I spent the first few weeks trying to find my rhythm. Working from home for the majority of the day became both physically and emotionally exhausting.
Remote workers are in dire need of a new office space. A change of scenery.
I spoke to a good friend of mine who also works remotely and he told me that the best place to work at is Starbucks. So, when in Rome, do as the remote workers do.
For a few months afterwards, I would swing by the local Starbucks from 8-12, have lunch and then work from home for the remainder of the day. Though it wasn’t until I cracked a joke with one of my mom’s friends that I knew what Starbucks was to me.
When Karen asked me what I was doing at Starbucks, I said, “I’m just finishing up another article. You know, the usual day at the office.”
As soon as I said the words I knew that Starbucks officially became my office space from that moment on.
And then I started taking a good look around me and realized that I wasn’t alone. About half a dozen others were taking client calls or sending messages via Slack groups on their laptops.
That’s when I got to thinking. I worked at the local Tim Horton’s café down the street from me and noticed parties of jovial senior citizens howling away at someone’s jokes, but hardly any remote workers like myself.
So, what makes Starbucks an ideal environment for remote workers? How did freelancers know they were singing from the same hymn sheet as they got their daily memos at Starbucks? Why is Starbucks a no brainer for remote workers?

The Company Culture at the Starbucks Office Space

Howard Schultz always believed in the community of people that Starbucks brought together. (Image via Addicted2Success)

Coffee culture is ostensibly the zeitgeist of the 21st century. At the helm of this culture is Starbucks.

Howard Schultz, former CEO and chairman of Starbucks, saw Starbucks as the infamous third space between home and work. Today, that third space is the second space for many. 

He said that at the heart of the culture at Starbucks is the community of people who enjoy coffee. When Starbucks was going through a tumultuous identity crisis that nearly destroyed the brand, Schultz knew that Starbucks was always about more than just coffee.

It’s this community culture that brings in more and more remote workers as regulars into the ever growing Starbucks community.

While in the espresso capital of the world, Italy, Schultz fell in love again with coffee culture as he said that “seeing the sense of community, romance, and theatre around the espresso made me realize that Starbucks was perhaps not in the right part of the coffee business. That the real business of the community was the integration of the beverage to creating a destination and sense of community in the store.”

The design and need for human connection continue to beckon remote workers back for another cup of joe.

The Wooded Design of the Second Space

The first Starbucks at Pike Place Market. (Image via Starbucks)

The design features that attract locals to sit and enjoy their favorite drink are nearly one and the same as those that attract remote workers to their Starbucks office space. People keep coming back to the coffee shop because of its comfortable ambiance.

One of the first things you’ll notice about nearly any Starbucks is the rustic wood design, which is a tribute to the first Starbucks in the artistic Pike Place Market in Seattle. Wood was, of course, not an arbitrary choice.

Well up until the 20th century, wood was a necessity item for our ancestors. They would burn wood to guard against the cold of the night and keep warm. Today, we still have a reverence for wood as it harkens back to the beauty of nature. Being in the presence of the wooded structures in Starbucks, on a subconscious level, makes you feel at ease because of your innate connection to the natural world. The wood design combined with the coffee counter as the centerpiece of any Starbucks is an ideal marriage of nature and culture.

Let There Be Natural Light at the Office Space

Lights will guide you along the path to this Starbucks in Disneyland Park in Anaheim. (Image via Ligman Lighting)

In the presence of the wooded design, you’ll notice that the lighting of your local Starbucks office space is also conducive to creativity.

When you take a closer look at classic Starbucks décor, the lighting and lighting fixtures stand out as an art form in themselves. Vast windows typically stand at the front of the store to let natural light enter the work space. Once again, another connection to the natural world à la Starbucks.

On Canal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, in honor of the regions rich jazz tradition, trumpets and trombones were repurposed to create a unique centre piece light fixture that hangs over a table. Seeing these types of unique lighting fixtures will shake up the ideas in your own brain also.

Beyond inspiring creativity, it’s also much easier on your eyes to work in a naturally lit office space.

Dr. Alan Hedge, Cornell University professor, studied the relationship between natural light and employee well-being and found that workers in naturally lit office spaces reported a 51 percent drop in the incidence of eyestrain, 63 percent drop in the incidence of headaches, and 56 percent drop in drowsiness.

In some locations that serve in the evenings, to show the transition between daylight to night, Starbucks staff will use dimmers to create the ambiance of a more intimate space — perfect for a night out after working at your second office space.

The Furniture of the Starbucks Office Space

What used to be a former vault of a historic bank in Rembrandtplein has since been repurposed as a Starbucks. (Image via Home Designing)

Something unique about the furniture setup in Starbucks is the gradient of height levels that add layers of texture to the office space. In many locations, you’ll find a long table that can be shared by several people. On another tier, you’ll find high tables with high chairs either beside a brick wall or in front of one of its vast windows. Finally, on the lower tier, you’ll notice more comfortable leather sofas as the height of luxury.

The furniture layout fosters opportunities for making new human connections as in the long tables while also giving you the opportunity to finish work independently or enjoy the intimate space of another person’s company on the high chairs or leather sofas.

Furniture is also strategically placed close to various plugs so that you can plug in your laptop charger cables or smartphone charger cables.

The Perks of Being an Aesthete in Starbucks

Brian Kappel’s, owner of Space Monkey Designs, artwork, inspired by Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, belongs to the wall on the first floor of Paterno Library Starbucks. (Image via Penn State)

Just as the lighting arrangement in Starbucks is surging with creativity, so too is admiring the select few paintings that many Starbucks locations have. These paintings are created by local artists or those in nearby communities.

Lara Behnert, the senior creative manager at Starbucks leading its global art program, attentively looks for artisans across the globe who are dedicated to their crafts.

“When we look for artists, we look for muralists, printmakers, wood carvers — people who work with their hands,” she says. “We love finding emerging artists with a focused perspective and style, who feel in line with how we are — optimistic, thoughtful and full of new ideas.”

Whether you’re finishing up a call with a client or penning the famous last words of your new article, take the time to wake up to the local beauty around you that captured a feeling or lived reality in that single frame.

What’s in a Name? Coffee With Your Name is Sweeter

A Blossoming Rose Tea Latte by any other name would smell as sweet. (Image via Foodgressing)

Another reason Starbucks stands out amongst its competitors for this sweet office space is the name game.

Whenever you order your favorite hot or cold drink at your local Starbucks, the baristas will ask you for your name to write on the side of the cup. This personalized detail makes you feel as though someone cares enough to engage with the identity you’ve had since birth.

Author Dale Carnegie of the still relevant business tract “How to Win Friends and Influence People” knows that it’s better to address someone by their first name. “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language,” he says.

A person’s name is a marker of identity that they’ve been carrying with them since birth. To address someone by their name is to engage with their identity.

That’s why when Starbucks marketing staff members launched their new campaign in 2012 to have baristas take down your name on the side of your drink order, it really did make your cup of joe taste sweeter.

The TV ad that Starbucks launched to go along with the campaign mourned the days when people were still treated as people rather than usernames and IP addresses.

At the least this campaign makes us remote workers feel like someone’s speaking that sweet language and at best, it leads to a great conversation with someone.

Another Day at the Starbucks Office Space

It’s another day of Starbucks! (Image via Seattle Times)

Working remotely can often leave you feeling isolated from your peers in more ways than one. Instead of hibernating in the Bruce Wayne’s bat cave, get out to your local Starbucks and let that fresh air do you good.

Whether for its calm ambiance, creativity-inspiring décor, or even just to be able to say hello to another human being, Starbucks is the new office space for remote workers and freelancers.

Here’s a question for you. In the digital age, where’s your office space?

Interested in reading fresh writing that gets you thinking about the digital age and your relationship to it?

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