And how we can improve our daily physical and mental health, and quality of life in Starbucks
The first Starbucks has been around a couple years before I was born. As a youth, McDonald’s was the cool spot to hangout in. I remember going to a “Mickey D’s” birthday party. Those square milk carton shaped red boxes with golden arch handles are called Happy Meals for a reason.
Another time my kindergarten class took a field trip to our local McDonald’s. I was in kid heaven. You never forget the smell of McD’s greasy food and French Fries. I remember walking by the hamburger patty area and being told not to touch anything (hot).
Some 30 plus years later, the hangout spot for kids now is Starbucks. It’s a coffee concept phenomenon.
Growing up in the U.S., coffee was positioned as an adult drink, like wine. Now there are children version coffee makers available.
As an adult, I started drinking coffee at home. I don’t have an exact date I became addicted to coffee. Or when I started accompanying my friends to hip Starbucks stores that really haven’t changed much.
Every Starbucks store looks different in terms of space and layout, but every store is about the same. Concept = coffee + community. That’s how Starbucks started (about community), and now you can buy the coffee just about anywhere.
I love what Howard Schultz innovated. I’ve heard him give inspirational leadership speeches about how he deliberately put employees first (before other successful companies deployed the concept).
Recently, besides meeting friends, I started writing on my laptop at Starbucks. There are over 10 stores within a 5 mile radius to where I live (and over 20,000 stores worldwide).
I’ve been to large and small one level stores, two and three level stores in the cities, and store front kiosks in grocery stores. I spend most my time at small one level stores. I love Starbucks, but I have some tips on how improving stores can help us (customers) be more productive.
Dear Starbucks, are you ready?
Physical and Mental Health Modifications (Suggestions)
-For body, back and sitting fatigue. I came home from writing in a Starbucks the other day and my arm had a shooting radial nerve arm pain for days (and now). Not new to my body. But new this time to me after being chronically pain free for years.
The tables are too tall for typing for any laptop worker as my arms reach up (where the wrist-elbow should be parallel to the table). Should I bring my own pillow?
I’m not expecting an ergonomic work setting like my work desk that I have, but it would be nice to be at a table that can be custom adjusted in height. I see really tall and big people squeezing themselves in. I’m an average 5’6” female and I struggle with the opposite. Shorter people probably struggle more than I do.
With any of the different style chairs, after about an hour, my back hurts. Ideally, I’d like to stay for two hours. I’ve sat along the padded booths and the single wooden chairs with padded cushions. Forget any bar high tables. They look cool, but they’re not good for most people working.
Maybe the goal of Starbucks is to have people move around (have their coffee and leave).
Maybe if someone could recommend a book about Starbucks on these philosophies, I would have a better understanding as a customer? The returning customer (regulars) thinks about when it’s a good idea to come to Starbucks or go elsewhere.
Work productivity is made better when a space is adaptable to multi-purpose (for different size and shaped people).
If you’re an office worker or write a lot like I do, you sit in front of a computer or laptop most your day (and all day). If you get up regularly to stretch your muscles, that helps you all around. And maybe you walk to the bathroom for a break.
-Add bathrooms (no rest rooms). If you’re drinking coffee, you need to use the toilet often. So having more toilets adds to customer’s productivity from not losing time standing in line.
People in individual bathrooms take longer (rest room) than if there were stalls and outside sinks. They’re causing lines. I know employees are part of Starbucks’ assets (philosophy of success), but they are part of the problem.
There is a separate men and women’s bathroom, but in reality everyone just uses whichever is open so there’s no line.
At either bathroom, you have to punch in a combination code to enter the one man and one woman-at-a-time bathroom. And once you have the code for that store, you have it for multi-use.
…So then what’s the point in having a code (other than unintentional inconvenience)? People come and leave Starbucks so you can’t tell a customer from a non-customer. And isn’t everyone in the world a Starbucks customer?
-For eye strain fatigue. The lighting is way too varied. Lighting is important for productivity. It can be too bright with strong overhead light or glaring natural window light.
Most visits I have to adjust the laptop screen and there are still uncomfortable glares. Some newer laptops are all glass like IPAD touch screens, that glare easily, so modifying stores for anti-glare could help.
-For distracting noises. Depending on the community in the store at any one time, the noise level can drown out the coffee music. The background dull noise murmurs can become loud conversations and feel like sitting in a McDonald’s, which is good for a kid (like I once was), but not fine for an adult.
The regular loud decibel sounds of chairs moving from table to table on the hard floors, hurts anyone who has sensitive hearing.
Without earbuds on, the chair dragging noises sound like scratching nails down a chalkboard. It drowns out the soothing machine sounds of cappuccino frothing, and dull murmurs that most people prefer.
Maybe a quiet and sustainable, but easy-to-clean floor material choice would be better.
For mental health. Maybe setup a quiet area where people aren’t chatting, especially for a larger or multi-level store? This allows people to listen to coffee music if they want, and do their work or read a book. I never see anyone reading a book anymore in a Starbucks, maybe because the noise levels are too distracting. They prefer a library.
Also, a communal space to meditate is an idea. Meditating for 20–30 minutes per day reduces stress and improves productivity. I see people meditating on park benches. Why not indoor in Starbucks? Emphasis can be on Starbucks tea drinking for these people.
Above, are some areas I think could be improved. On a positive note, Starbucks has made great strides and business decisions that help with our overall productivity and society growth:
Good wifi. Consistent, never had an issue. One time sign up with password.
Starbucks and Teavana. Tea (green, white, rooibos) is deemed healthy and Starbucks offers decent tea.
I discovered Samurai Chai Mate and JavaVana at Teavana stores before Teavana mall stores closed. In case you never got to experience, you could take your tins and have them filled with mate and the latest mixes of tea concoctions.
When requested, an employee would open one of many big round metal tins with loose tea leaves and herbs. They would then send fresh tea fragrant waffs to your nose’s delight so you could smell. I was in tea vana (tea heaven).
Sustainability efforts. The reusable plastic cups are a great idea.
Everyone has their own story about recycling. I heard about recycling for the first time in 1990, when there was a large DC Rally where Actor Tom Cruise presented on the downtown mall. I remember we started out with clear, green, and then brown glass bottle recycling. And never looked back since.
Over time, our household recycle bins have filled with plastic and paper, and become larger at times than our trash bin composts. This is our future.
Thank you Starbucks, keep up the good work and innovations!