My friend and fellow BirminghamMom Kathy envisions the day she will leave the cubicle farm behind and call Starbucks her office. She’ll walk in and the barista will greet her by name, ask her if she wants her usual order, and inquire about the family before Kathy accepts her steaming latte and heads to a table to check e-mail or meet a client.
This type of arrangement is already a reality for many people. Visit a Panera Bread any morning and you’ll find a hive of busy workers, not behind the counter (although the employees are certainly efficient) but at every booth and table. Many of these wired workers are enjoying an office away from the office, often pursuing interests that have nothing to do with their usual workplace. They prepare sermons, practice a presentation, meet with fellow volunteers on an upcoming project.
These spots are a BirminghamMom’s haven for an uninterrupted moment to read e-mail or catch up with a friend. If you can’t think straight as long as there are dishes in the sink and/or clothes to be laundered, get away to a place where the loose ends at home can’t be distraction. I know a woman who goes to the Barnes & Noble cafe near her home every Saturday morning to clean out her purse, gather her receipts/coupons and plan her week. If she didn’t leave the house, she says she would just begin cleaning mindlessly and not make the time to prioritize.
Although there have always been good public spaces for meeting with friends, the option of WiFi allows you an even greater freedom: Meeting with yourself. A few minutes over coffee or at lunch with your laptop can be time well spent. Investigate customer ratings on a future purchase, double check the school calendar with you own, develop your next Big Idea. More and more spots in Birmingham are offering WiFi, and some of the best don’t charge for the privilege. Besides coffee houses, many restaurants now have WiFi. (Not a coffee fan? Go to a McAllister’s with wi-fi and enjoy a giant sweet tea).
I acknowledge there are places I hope never allow digital intrusions, but I am grateful for all the locations that allow us to catch up with our friends, virtual and in the flesh, without having to clean our houses. Check out these Birmingham area WiFi spots when you need a neutral spot to engage with or retreat from the rest of the world.