“Coffeehouses have always attracted bookish deadbeats who stayed too long and bought too little,” writes Jessica Guynn of the LA Times. But with wifi and electrical outlets, for some owners, loafers are getting out of hand. They’re pulling the plug to make room for customers who buy more and linger less.
If this truly is a trend (and we’re not sure it won’t end up in Jack Shafer’s weekly roundup) there are definite implications for freelancers, bloggers, and virtual media workers.
The coffee shop has long been a popular hangout for people like this because it’s more interesting than the library, you can bring in food, and it’s a million times cheaper than one of those (admittedly swank) coworking spaces in a loft somewhere. If free wifi goes the way of the dinosaurs as coffee shop owners try to improve business…well, we’ll all get a lot more work done, in the distraction-free environment of our homes (or Internetless cafes).
Or we’ll all spend more money at Starbucks, which recently announced it was making its wifi free for everyone.
Personally, we fall into the camp that says having someone sitting in the window with a laptop makes the place look busier. But if shops are turning away paying customers because the laptop users won’t leave, we do understand.
So far, nobody’s banned laptop use with the vigor of disconnecting wifi. Which means that enterprising souls can bring a cellular connection or piggyback off nearby signals. Which means that the culture of work and coffee may not be vanishing just yet.