Lansing's Nomadic Office Guide
Here at Capital Gains, we’ve written about non-traditional work environments — employers who allow employees to work from home, play pool or watch a movie in the employee lounge during break. But what about all the nomads out there — that increasing number of people, most of them web-based, who work in their pajamas, camp out at coffee shops for hours and check email while getting a tan? Where do they go?
A month ago, the Nomad Office Experience Facebook
group popped up as a means to help us nomadic workers find the best places in the Capital region to plug in and caffeinate.
The Nomad Office Experience is a closed group comprised of more than 30 members that rates coffee shops as workstations based on coffee quality and price, the friendliness of the work environment, service and WiFi quality.
We worked with the Nomad Office Experience to put together a guide to some of the Capital region’s nomadic hotspots. We didn’t hit everyone, and immediately disqualified some for missing the Big Three — Internet, service and environment — but here they are. Happy working, nomads!Gone Wired, Eastside
I should pay rent to Gone Wired
during the winter because I spend so much time there. It’s two blocks from my Eastside Lansing
house and has a funky atmosphere and a respectful staff. In the summer, this spot’s a bit of a challenge because it doesn’t have air conditioning—a big faux paux for a coffee shop that’s 40 percent second floor.
“The work environment gets an above average grade with the exception that there is no air conditioning,” according to one Nomad Office Experience user. “I can't imagine what it would be like on a 90 degree day. It is relatively quiet and they have fans running for a bit of white noise. It is kind of a funky place with some cool art and good range of people, from old guys in suits to Cooley
students and a knitting grandmothers group.”
Community groups definitely define Gone Wired, which is cool. But workers beware. Mommy groups meet here with their children. Good for mom, bad for productivity. The WiFi access at Gone Wired is impeccable as is the access to power. Gone Wired has power stations everywhere and I’ve never had trouble juicing up. Gone Wired staff can be a bit slow on the java delivery, so the experience can be a practice in patience.Decker’s, Downtown Lansing
If you go to Decker’s
in Downtown Lansing
on an early Thursday morning, you might run into the Capital Gains crew. This quaint, independently owned coffee shop acts as our home away from home. The coffee’s good, reasonably priced and the staff is very friendly, but not knock you over the head Susie Sunshine friendly like the BIGGBY
If you settle into Decker’s, keep your ears and eyes open. A lot of politicos fill up here as do Cooley Law students, who are known for using some pretty barfy pick up lines on their female counterparts. If you have to driver here, keep your eyes on your car, because the Lansing parking employees are militant about covering this area. You get 1.5 hours in a meter and when that time’s up, you better be outside with a quarter and a sob story.
WiFi access here isn’t always the strongest, but it’s free and there’s plenty of outlets. Great Lakes Chocolate and Coffee Company, Stadium District
The Great Lakes Chocolate and Coffee Company
in the Stadium District
in Downtown Lansing
seems to be a favorite among the wandering Michigan State University
(MSU) faculty. Perhaps it’s because they’ve used their intellect to cash in on the free parking behind the Stadium District, a big score for those of us who need to work longer than 1.5 hours a day.
Though the coffee and chocolate is good, the Nomad Office folks labeled it as a “little pricey.” They also rated the work environment as poor for solitary workers due to the constant customer traffic, noise level and minimal access to plugs. However, for a lunch meeting, this is a good spot.Cappuccino Café, East Lansing
The Cappuccino Café on Lake Lansing Road on Lake Lansing Road in East Lansing is a diamond in the rough. Generally undiscovered by MSU students (we love them, but they take up space), it’s not hard to find a table here, even during finals.
The Cappuccino Café tends to attract a lot of seniors, so sometimes you have to keep your head down to avoid unwanted conversation from lonely wanderers. There are enough plugs in this place to feed about eight computers and most of them are toward the back of the restaurant. This is a no-pressure establishment with good brewed coffees and marginal flavored coffees. The WiFi connection is fantastic, and they have a free water cooler, which helps mute the impact of a caffeine high.
The coffee and pastries are good, but the breakfast sandwiches and lunch fare leave something to be desired. Parking’s free and plentiful.Grand River Café, East Lansing
This is my favorite place to go to multi-task in the summer. When I need to work for dough and my tan, this is where you’ll find me. The Grand River Café
on Grand River in downtown East Lansing
has a great patio with umbrellas for those of you with porcelain complexion, but great sunny-side access for the rest of us.
The coffee here is decent, but refills are not free, so go ahead and get a large instead of a medium. This place gets overrun with students in the winter, which is difficult if you need to get some work done. Outlets are minimal and Internet access is only granted with the purchase of a drink. Considering the hours of use, that's fair. Mama Bear’s, Old Town
I’ve only ever held meetings at Mama Bear’s in Old Town, but apparently I’m missing out. The Nomad Office folks love it, citing Free Trade coffee, organic food, good prices, great WiFi access, great aesthetic and working environment as just a few reasons to head to Old Town
People watching — suits, artists, hippies — also reaches a peak at Mama Bear’s. As every working nomad knows, the caliber of people watching is clutch to high productivity. Not only does it break up the workday, it’s also inspirational for us creative types.
So there you have it, nomads. Six places to sit down, power up and dig in.
To receive Capital Gains free every week, click here
Ivy Hughes has been a working nomad for more than two years and has interviewed several people from her car.
Dave Trumpie is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.
Photo 1 & 2 Gone Wired Cafe
Photo 3 Great Lakes Chocolate and Coffee Company
Photo 4 The Cappuccino Cafe
Photo 5 & 6 Grand River Cafe
All Photographs © Dave Trumpie