It was never the intention of any cafe to create a work-place environment, but that’s what happened for the myriads of cafes offering wi-fi to their customers. The rise of startups and self-employed individuals has the market in growing pains – these people can’t always work from home, but they lack a full time office, or maybe can’t afford one yet. While these people do typically buy a coffee to use the wifi, they frequently sit for hours on end, taking up space in the cafe and slowing the flow of new customers, ultimately hurting the cafe.
It’s no surprise then that high-traffic Toronto cafes are starting to take some measures against squatters. Some solutions have included:
- Creating a “Laptop Free” seating area for those who are looking to sit down for lunch
- Limiting Wifi to 2 hours, or even 30 minutes during peak times
- Using not-too comfortable seating, generally become uncomfortable after an hour or so
While some of these measures can impact real customers – the ones who come in for food – the aim is to discourage long-term seating. It’s not all bad – some users do buy food and drinks, raising the overall purchase – but the majority aren’t what the cafe owners opened up their shop for.