Necessity required that I give up my bookshelf-lined office and half of my library in order to move to a new town as a church planter. A church “planter” does just that – plants or begins a new church. Church planting requires a change of context, new skills, and a new “audience.”
It also requires a new place to “office.” My new office happens to be coffee shops. One business writer calls this “going bedouin” as in moving from one place to another.
At first I thought it would be difficult to have to work in the public eye the way I now do. Awkward to open my laptop in a busy coffee shop, and distracting my thoughts from the work I would need to get done.
To the contrary – the experience has been surprising and positive to me, and I can honestly say that there are 5 really good reasons to office in public places.
The first is probably the most obvious. It creates social connections that are impossible in a sequestered office. The interactions give opportunities for creative conversation, building bridges pertaining to work, and receiving direction. Officing in public keeps your finger on the pulse of the culture.
The second reason is that unless you have ADD, the public setting also stimulates creativity. The music, buzz of voices, and motion eventually become the fuel for thoughts and ideas. A caveat however, – if you are easily distracted and unfocused, a quiet, unstimulating place is probably the best.
Opportunities for various kinds of service often arise. In recent memory I have had two people ask specifically for my help. These would not have occurred if I was officed away from the public.
A companion reason is that officing regularly in the same space gives people an opportunity to get to know you and, as a result, build trust with them. The best relationships are created over time because they have the space and time needed to marinate and mature.
Finally, and best of all, officing in a public space makes you privy to great conversations. Sometimes I go home feeling blessed beyond words about some chat I had with someone. In our Western way of looking at things, this long-term activity is a waste of time. If something cannot be had in the next moment, it is not worth waiting for. But such sentiment is not true.
I’d never want to go back indoors. Working “out” in public spaces, while challenging, is filled with positives that reveal themselves and mature over time and several cups of coffee.