I’ve spent this afternoon working in a Caffe and it’s been an incredibly interesting experiment in people observations.
It’s a weekday in one of the UK’s larger cities and it has been busy in here all afternoon. There was a slight lull about 14:00 but other than that every table has had someone sitting at it.
Of the 13 tables I can currently see, four of them are occupied by single people (mine included). Only one of these people is doing anything “social”, everyone else is typing on a keyboard or writing in a report, or something similar. At least four other tables are occupied by groups of people having business meetings; some of them more overt than others.
The first thing I notice about this working environment is how insecure it is.
I know something about this city and something that is going to happen here that is all “hush hush” as the advertising executive said to the sales person he was dealing with. I also know how much it costs to advertise in the sales person’s magazine.
I know when the two people in the table opposite are next going to meet and where.
I haven’t had to do anything special to gain this information, I’ve just sat here and overheard.
The other thing I’ve noticed is how essential the mobile business device has become.
I’m the only person using a fully fledged laptop, everyone else is making arrangements and taking notes on either an iPhone or a BlackBerry. Contacts are being exchange, meeting arranged, even sales figures discussed, all on the small screen.
Another observation is how attentive people are.
I attend lots of business meetings where people look as if they would rather be sat on the toilet. That’s not the case for most of these meetings, people are talking, interacting, negotiating, illustrating, gesticulating even. They are engaged in their business. It could be that the type of people who come to such a place are the type of people who are naturally engaged, but I suspect it’s more likely that the atmosphere in here is more conducive to debate and discussion.
The final observations is that I haven’t seen a single tie all afternoon.
All of the business is taking place in casual dress, some smarter than others.