- Posted by Graham Dockrill
- On August 28, 2017
- 2 Comments
- business, entrepreneur, new york, new zealand, productivity, start up, working remotely
As an entrepreneur and sales consultant, I have the luxury of an ever-changing work environment. This ranges across cities, countries and continents, month by month. The variation is great for creative thinking, exposure to new perspectives and endless networking opportunities. It does not however come without trials. The absence of an ‘office’ where you understand the routines – what time the doors open, who’s not a morning person and where to go when your computer breaks – poses constant challenges.
The population density of Manhattan is over 100 times greater than Auckland. This means you can find truly varying, stereotype-fulfilling communities all over Manhattan Island. You will find power suits in the Financial District (FiDi) and hipster vegan bearded men with new MacBooks in hemp backpacks in Williamsburg. And you will definitely not feel cool enough to sit in the Bushwick hot spots with all the punky freelance artists.
“How to make the most of this energetic city? Get out there and sit amongst it. Let it fuel your day.”
Some of the challenges include how to maximise this variety to boost your own productivity, how to network effectively and how to position yourself in the right spots to compliment your work style. You need to constantly ask yourself “how can I make this big city work for me?”
When I’m in New York I spend a lot of time working from shared work spaces and cafes. The hum is energizing. Research published by the Oxford University Press has found moderate levels of ambient noise actually boosts performance on creative tasks. The mild background noise suppresses analytical, systematic thinking; allowing the back-of-the-brain, creative ideas to emerge. The study also found that “moderate (70 dB) versus low (50 dB) level of ambient noise enhances performance on creative tasks and increases the buying likelihood of innovative products.”
Shared work spaces also boost productivity, with research finding that the proximity of co-workers stimulates our competitiveness, driving us to work harder. Shared working environments are effectively audiences. Audiences full of fellow working people who you are not only working alongside, but working to impress, to intimidate and to beat.
As with everything in this city, there is a way of getting it right and a way of getting it very wrong. Because of this I have put together some advice from my experiences of working in shared spaces, to try and make the most out of your precious hours in this frantic city.
- Before ordering your coffee, setting up your computer and family photos double check the café has Wi-Fi. Both Google and Yelp frequently get this little fact wrong – leaving you hot-spotting off your phone for half a day.
- Tip generously. Let’s be honest, you didn’t just come here for a coffee. You’re grinding off the Wi-Fi, air conditioning, bathrooms and general ambiance for hours on end. If there’s ever a moment to tip generously, it’s now.
- Come pre-charged. You may be able to find a plug, you may not. Avoid the inconvenience of the latter by showing up with a fully charged laptop.
- Manhattan is a diverse and interesting part of the world and it’s likely you won’t live here forever. So get out of your SoHo comfort zone, catch the J train and see what else the metropolis has to offer.
- Work at high turnover cafes. These spaces expect a full meal order and a quick turnaround. A coffee and a croissant will not cut it here. They’ll be showing you the door before you’re even able to say “LinkedIn”.
- Sit near doorways, walk ways and bathrooms. You’ll just be in the way.
- Expect to have a good experience in Mid-town. I’m happy to be proven wrong on this one, but my experiences of cafés in mid-town have been soul-sucking. I recommend venturing downtown for a little calm and a far better chance of finding good coffee.
Five reasons to work from a New York café:
- Break from the ordinary. This stimulates creativity and allows you to feel refreshed.
- Peer pressure, contrary to poplular belief you may actually work harder in a café. Concentration is contagious!
- The bustle of a café supports deep thinking. Especially after your third coffee.
- You’re alone, but not alone. Nobody comes and asks you questions and nobody will actually interrupt you.
- Networking with your target market (In Williamsburg if hipster vegan bearded men is your target demographic).
My favourite spots:
I appreciate the calm, free spaces of Cadillac House in Tribeca which is known for hosting entrepreneurs, freelancers and cars! Another great spot is Spacious@Publica in Nolita. And finally, Happy Bones NYC, a New Zealand café with great coffee.