Love them or hate them, you cant ignore them. I’m talking about Macca’s. Or Mickey-D’s depending on which part of the world you’re in. But in my part of the world, something strange is happening to McDonald’s stores. And it seems to be happening after 7pm on weeknights.
I am not ashamed to say that I use McDonald’s for my own benefit. The free Wi-Fry (their spelling, not mine), the air conditioning, the comfortable seating and the coffee that is actually not too bad at all make for a great place to do business. Real business. Because McDonald’s in Australia is changing rapidly.
I think I’ve probably how hosted close to 100 meetings at McDonald’s stores around Australia. And for a few good reasons.
- It’s easy for my clients to find.
- There is reliable air conditioning.
- There is ample coffee, tea and beverage choices.
- There is free WiFi (more on that later though…)
- There is plenty of parking.
- My clients can bring their kids.
- Some stores have meeting rooms.
Oh and I forgot the biggest thing for me as a small one-man start-up. Their WiFi, meeting rooms and restaurant tables are free to use. Not that I don’t buy at least something when I go in. At least a coffee and a cookie. But yes, it’s a really low-cost way to conduct business on the road.I have already copped some flack from someone who is a vegetarian who couldn’t attend a seminar I was running because they can’t be seen supporting McDonald’s (a post they placed on a smartphone or computer that was built in a factory that pollutes the Earth, pays it’s workers about $20 per week and contains dangerous toxic materials that leach back in to the soil in landfills – but hey, we all have to draw a line somewhere…) And I understand that some people prefer to meet in a artisanal privately-owned cafe that sells macro-dynamic yoghurt and gluten-free cacao protein balls. This post is not for those people. So if that’s you, I apologise. I’ll have more material for you down the track.This post is about what I have noticed is happening to a lot of McDonald’s stores after 7pm. Once the kids are home and the drive through starts to ease-up, there is a different crowd that I’ve noticed coming in to McDonalds in the evening. They aren’t eating Big Macs. They aren’t dipping fries in to their ice cream. And they’re hanging around for an hour or more.
They are students studying. They are young adults reading on their iPads. They are work-from-home middle-agers furiously typing up proposals and blog posts. They are graphic designers on MacBook Pros. And they are people like me sitting quietly at a table sipping on a Mocha Frappe whilst working on the layout of a website on my laptop computer whilst my client sits across from me and comments on the changes I am making.
Last night I wasn’t the only telecommuter at McDonald’s Robina Central on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
There was a young woman of around 22 years old talking her friend or client through the design of her new business cards compelte with an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. There was a woman of around 65 on a big chunky old laptop watching a YouTube video on her phone that was mounted above her laptop screen. It looked like she was watching a Photoshop tutorial and learning about masking. There was an International Student from the local university campus on his Leonvo laptop talking quietly to someone in Mandarin. And there were a group of young men around 19-22 years old crowded around an iPad watching a Twitch video of some gameplay that, to me, looked like it might have been World of Warcraft.
And this is not the first time I’ve encountered it. Go in to any McDonald’s restaurant with a McCafe, free WiFi and a quiet seating area that is separated from the main dining room and the Playland, and you’ll find people sipping coffee, munching on macarons and tapping way at keyboards getting work done.
And the same thing is happening at The Coffee Club, Gloria Jeans, Starbucks and various franchised chain stores that seem to serve coffee, WiFi and a relatively quiet spot away from screaming kids.It’s a revolution in telecommuting. I, myself do more time working outside my office than I do in it. My meetings aren’t held in office blocks with shiny foyers with surly receptionists. They are held in the McCafe, the RSL Club lounge, Southport Sharks cafe, The Wickham Hotel’s beer garden, the Alex Headland Surf Club and any cafe that has access to air conditioning and WiFI in case my data allowance for the month is running low.
Quite simply, we’re doing a lot of business at McDonald’s. And it has nothing to do with the burgers.