written by Lori Thiessen

I’ve been re-reading a book called The Cheese and the Worms by Carlo Ginzburg about a 16th century Friuli miller called Menocchio who was burned at the stake for his unorthodox cosmogony.  The preface to the book discusses “popular culture” and “dominate culture” at great length.

I’m interested in the many definitions of culture. For instance, many labour and business experts bang on about corporate culture quite a bit as well as general work culture.

I was thinking about how this applies to being a cafe commuter or remote worker. One of the nifty names given to remote workers is the “kinetic elite”.  Is there something about being a remote worker which is inherently elitist? Hmmm.

There is something of the “playing hooky” air about escaping from the office to the coffee shop. Are you really working or just finding an excuse to flirt with the super cute barista? If you are able to break free from “pod-land”, then you must be special, mustn’t you?

Generally speaking the kind of work that enables people to be remote workers is intellectually based. So the hoary old image of the ivory tower comes to the forefront again. Are remote workers really in touch with the work experience of the labouring masses? Perhaps they are too much in touch with the experience, hence the escape via the laptop.

If you are an entrepreneur in certain areas of business,  some people may express concern that you aren’t quite legit if you use a cafe as your office.  How good are you if you can’t even afford a proper office?

But for the hip, cutting edge techno crowd working out of a coffee shop or cafe is in keeping with being hip and cutting edge.  You are a neo-bedouin worker, possibly even coming up with something truly original in your line of work. Using a coffee shop as an office mirrors your unorthodox and unusual potentially great business.

Most remote workers I know work flipping hard. They are generally consultants of one stripe or another, and a consultant’s life isn’t an easy one, especially if you are new. Most of the time if you aren’t working flat out on one contract, you are doing negotiations to secure another and doing marketing to build your clientel base. It’s only when you have a posse of regular clients that work life becomes a easier.  Until a major economic crisis hits, then all bets are off.

I’m not going to hand you a pat answer to the question of: Is the cafe commuter an elitist worker position? because I haven’t got one. I just wanted to open the discussion because I think it is one worth exploring.  It is part of the larger discussion of current or popular work culture.

So feel free to share your thoughts.

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save your seat until next time.

(P.S. My apologies for the inconsistencies of the postings on this blog over the last while. Life has currently got me by the short and curlies, but I hope its iron grip will be loosened shortly. Thanks for your patience and continued support of this project! Cheers, Lori)