I am currently sat in a busy Caffe Nero and to the right of me an appraisal is being carried out between a manager and his appraisee. This is happening in earshot of not only myself but also the rest of the interested coffee shop. It’s fascinating stuff and certainly more interesting than what I am supposed to be concentrating on. The question is how does the appraisee feel about having an audience for her appraisal?

Suitable Working Environment?

Working and holding meetings in coffee shops is not unusual, in the past I have witnessed sales meetings, department catch-ups, appraisals and even interviews. I’ve been known to work from a coffee shop on an occasional basis and I get why people do it – it is very convenient, a combination of good wifi and drinks is difficult to resist. This is a fairly recent phenomenon fuelled by the incredible growth of coffee shops in the UK and with so many they are having to offer spaces for people to work in order to attract the custom.
My question is whether a busy coffee shop is really the right environment to be holding an appraisal or interview where potentially sensitive information might be discussed? I’ve been to a few meetings where there have been tears (not always my own!) and I am certain you wouldn’t have wanted some random coffee shop user witnessing this.

The Pros and the Cons

So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of holding your meetings in the local Costa.
Pros
1. Relaxed environment – most coffee establishments these days have comfortable seating and the odd sofa in them so there isn’t the need for a face to face across the board room table which can be pretty intimidating. This can lead to…
2. Maybe more likely to open up away from the office – if the person you are appraising is relaxed you are more likely to have a successful meeting.
3. Away from others in the office – holding a sensitive meeting in the office in full sight of peers might not be the best way to get the most out of your meet.
4. Good coffee and cake – it is almost guaranteed to be better than you can get in the office!
Cons
1. Noisy – most coffee shops are busy and therefore noisy. This will make it difficult for both parties to concentrate on each other and listen.
2. Likely to be overheard – whatever you are discussing could well be overheard by others.

Things to Consider

So, in summary, here are some top tips to consider if you are thinking of holding a meeting away from the office and in the local Starbucks:
1. Is the content of your meeting appropriate for the environment?
2. Does the other party agree, do they have any reservations?
3. What issues would it cause if someone else overheard your conversation?
And most importantly think how you would feel if you were in their position?

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