You’re about to see a growing trend of ‘laptop workers’ in cafés – and new research reveals why

Working from cafes and pubs has been commonplace amongst freelancers for years. But with an influx of new hybrid workers, we’re now seeing a significant growth in the trend.

New research from Swinburne University of Technology, partnering with, has investigated the appeal of working from cafés and other alternative locations, what they use them for and how they behave.

Recent research from OpenTable has revealed that almost half of remote workers now spend time each week working from cafes or other third places. The trend is particularly popular with Gen Z workers, 10 per cent of whom say third places are now their preferred place to work.

Swinburne research shows that when it comes to third place work venues, cafes were the clear favourite – but participants mentioned they sometimes also use other third places, such as pubs, hotels and parks.

On average, the researchers found that people who work in third places will typically do so between 2-3 times each week. They will stay anywhere between 15 minutes and 4 hours and spend up to AU$30 each visit. Most of the time, they’ll go to a third place on their own and for small meetings.

The most common work tasks completed outside of the home and office are deep individual work, creative thinking/work, reading, admin tasks, paperwork, emails, small meetings and informal phone calls.

There are many factors that attract workers to a third venue – including good coffee, cost, nice music, privacy and outdoor space – but by far the most popular responses were:

  1. feeling welcome
  2. reviews
  3. wi-fi and power sockets
    “Overwhelmingly, ‘laptop workers’ want a place where they feel welcome. They want a nice, friendly atmosphere – that isn’t too crowded, noisy or have staff pressuring them to leave after a certain amount of time.

“Venues looking to attract these types of workers might have signage welcoming people to work within, provide a dedicated working space, advertise the wi-fi password or offer special bundles, such as a two-hour package including unlimited coffee and a sandwich,” says lead researcher and Swinburne Innovation Fellow, Associate Professor John Hopkins.

Sandwiches are a good bet. The research found that workers opt for snacks and meals, with more than half of third places workers saying they’d buy something they could ‘eat with one hand’ – with sandwiches, pastries, cookies and muffins being the most popular choices.

The top three benefits to working in a third place were seen to be mental reset, community and social connection, and great food and coffee.
When asked to what extent working from a third place positively contributes to their overall wellbeing, the average response was 86 per cent.

The chance of continuing to use a third place for work in the future was 98 per cent.

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