Free Wi-Fi has long been one of the main marketing ploys that coffee shops everywhere use to attract visitors. Now that freelancing has grown to such a high degree of popularity, though, some coffee shops are starting to declare their businesses a “laptop-free zone”, stating that there are too many freelancers spending all day in their shop working.
Why Coffee Shops are Cutting the Free Wi-Fi
So why do coffee shops care about freelancers using their Wi-Fi? The key to success for any coffee shop is customer turnover. They need new customers coming and going from their shop all day long, not customers staying all day taking up a table.
That’s not to say that cutting off the Wi-Fi is necessarily a prudent move. For some coffee shops, though – especially the smaller ones – it’s the only way they can ensure they keep enough tables open for new customers.
In addition to the economic impact of people bringing their work into the coffee shop, some coffee shop owners have complained that it stifles social interaction.
One coffee shop owner named Ronke Arogundade said she was cutting off the Wi-Fi in her shop as a way of “reviving the art of hospitality.” She went on to say that, “’Without laptops, people have a natural time cycle – they drink their coffee, have some food, chat and leave. But when you open a computer you move beyond that natural cycle and lose touch with the environment around you.”
Whatever their reasoning, banning laptops and/or shutting off the free Wi-Fi is becoming something of a growing trend for coffee shops everywhere.
Are Freelancers Really Taking Over Coffee Shops?
Aside from freelancers, there are plenty of other people who bring a laptop to coffee shops. From students completing homework assignments to business professionals touching up a last-minute project before they head into the office, coffee shops have become a common workplace for many individuals. However, no group takes advantage of them quite like freelancers.
There are a few different reasons why freelancers tend to enjoy working at coffee shops and also tend to stick around longer than the average customer. For one, freelancing is often a very solitary career. Working in a social environment such as a coffee shop allows freelancers to get outside the house and work within a peaceful, almost office-like environment.
As for why they tend to stay longer, freelancers are able to perform their entire day’s work without every having to leave. Students will have classes they eventually have to go to, and business professionals must eventually show up at the office. This isn’t the case with freelancers, who can check into a coffee shop and work an entire eight-hour day at the table.
When you consider the fact that freelancers now make up 35% of the workforce in the United States, you could see where this might be a problem for coffee shop owners.
Should You Keep Working at Coffee Shops if You are a Freelancer?
The short answer to this question is yes, if you enjoy completing your work in a coffee shop you should continue to do so. However, you should also be respectful of the business you are visiting and the rules they choose to enforce.
Keep in mind that only a handful of coffee shops are cutting off the Wi-Fi. Many others still welcome people bringing their work into the coffee shop because they know they’ll likely buy something while they are there.
Even still, you may want to think twice before you camp out all day at a coffee shop, especially if it seems busy or there aren’t enough tables available for everyone to be seated.
In the end, a little common courtesy and awareness is all you need to ensure that you are able to still enjoy working at your favorite coffee shop while at the same time staying respectful of the people who own it.