The Real Reason Starbucks Employees Have To Stand In One Place

If you've ever walked into a Starbucks, you may have noticed something peculiar about the employees: They all stand in designated places. Called "planted positions," it might seem strange as to why Starbucks employees do this, but it's no accident, and employees are actually trained to do this. It all comes down to one thing: efficiency.

To customers, it might just appear that being "planted in a location" only has to do with the physical space the employee is standing in, but it's actually more to do with the different jobs each employee is assigned to do within that area of the store. This is so all of the essential operations are broken down into smaller, more manageable positions. With every employee assigned to a specific place, nothing slips through the cracks.

The structure is part of what Starbucks calls its "Playbook," reports Eat This, Not That!, and the specific staffing of each person in a designated space is called a "play." Depending on how busy the store is, how many employees are working, and the time of day, a manager will "call a play." This may mean deploying different employees to different positions they perform well in, or even using certain positions that are only necessary when the store is particularly overwhelmed.

The essential roles of each play

According to a Reddit thread, there are usually six different roles in the Starbucks playbook. Depending on how busy the store is, roles may be shared between multiple baristas. 

POS, or point of sale, is usually the barista who is taking your order. There's usually a warmer — the barista who warms up sandwiches and other food. If the store has a drive-thru, an employee may be tasked to DTO, or drive-thru order. Similar to the person running POS, this employee is taking orders for the cars in line. Likewise, someone may be designated DTW, or drive-thru window. They're in charge of handing drinks and food off to customers. Sometimes this is combined with DTO if it's not peak hours. Of course, someone is assigned to the bar — that is, making drinks. People "on bar," as Starbucks calls it, make drinks and hand them off to customers. Sometimes one employee will man the whole bar themselves, and other times they might share the duty with one or two other baristas.

The final role in most Starbucks plays is known as CS, which stands for customer support or cafe support, depending on the store. The CS role requires employees to brew hot coffee, restock items in the store, and do light cleaning. Some stores may use greeters or designated hand-off baristas, who are responsible for welcoming customers to the store or passing drinks and food to them, respectfully.