A Daily news digest by Jasper van Santen

Wi-fi ‘lingerers’ in coffee shops are causing territorial disputes, academic research finds – Telegraph

In Nonsense on May 9, 2012 at 16:55

Monmouth Coffee

Wi-fi ‘lingerers’ in coffee shops are causing territorial disputes, academic research finds 

The so-called ‘coffee shop conquerors’ are fast-becoming anti-social menaces in modern society, the study found.

They are lured into coffee shops by free wi-fi and no time restrictions. However their prolonged presence in the cafes can lead to territorial disputes and even falling sales.

The report called Dibs! Customer Territorial Behaviours, published in the Journal of Service Research, was carried out by marketing professors Merlyn Griffiths of the University of North Carolina and Mary Gilly of the University of California.

They said that individual workers are effectively setting up their entire office at a table: laying out their laptop, smartphone, iPad and bag, ordering a large skinny latte and then staying there the whole afternoon.

These consumers consider the price of their coffee to be their ‘rent’ and a guarantee that they cannot be kicked out of the establishment.

But while they provide some income to the cafes, they are becoming a turn-off to other customers.

The report said: “Changing work habits have created a new class of teleworkers for whom the office is wherever they can access a wireless signal.”

A single cup of coffee effectively buys a workstation for the afternoon.

“They use the devices they have at hand – laptop, phone, purse, briefcase, backpack, clothes, coffee cup – and place them all on the table top and chairs surrounding them.

“This effectively barricades against others looking for a place to sit down and relax. A single customer can turn a four-person table into a makeshift office,” the research found.

The research went on to say that “in pursuit of undistracted privacy”, customers engage in territorial behaviours that “communicate to other customers that intrusion is not welcome”.

Workers in the café are increasingly having to resolve rows between customers, the report said.

Chains such as Starbucks offer free wi-fi in hundreds of shops across the UK. The laid back approach is designed to encourage shoppers to stay for longer in its so-called “third place” areas, which are made to feel half way between a private home and a public space.

However many customers who set up their office in coffee shops are “crossing the line”, the report said.


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