Remote working in coffee shops has become more frequent since the COVID-19 pandemic. Porapak Apichodilok/Pexels

A coffee shop in Canterbury now forbids customers from using laptops in their cafe after they grew frustrated with people taking advantage of the setting.

Fringe and Ginge, which opened in summer 2020, is owned by Alfie Edwards and his partner Olivia Walsh. The pair made the difficult decision as they found many remote workers ordering one item and ending up working on their laptops at the cafe for hours.

On some occasions, these customers would even request for music to be turned off and for people to be quiet so that they could join a Zoom call for work. Laptop users have become prominent in coffee shops since COVID-19 as remote workers favoured a calm and relaxing setting, with food at their disposal.

At Fringe and Ginge, the atmosphere was worsening as little interaction was taking place between customers.

Edwards explained, "There are places dedicated to people working - and they have cafes as well. Here, we realised we wanted to take hospitality back and dedicate it to just serving people and letting them have a nice experience."

The co-owner adds that the ban on laptops has positively impacted the cafe: "It's just so nice to have people who were previously strangers that now chat regularly. To see people connecting, we've built a community here."

The decision was tough for Edwards and Walsh, but it made sense to them as their shop was a place for socialising. Remote workers can instead work at a library or rent a desk somewhere.

Whilst Fringe and Ginge believe they have made the right call, a manager from a cafe in the nearby area disagrees with banning laptops. Garage Cafe boss Hannah Swann allows customers to use their laptops in her store as the spot typically has enough space to accommodate all visitors.

She believes the positive aspect of working in cafes is its calmness. However, Swann does acknowledge that some people take advantage of purchasing just one drink and remaining at their table for many hours.

The Garage Cafe managers also understand that circumstances differ for Edwards and Walsh, and allowing laptops would be bad for their business. She said: "In the space Fringe and Ginge are in, I do understand it, just because if they did allow laptops, they would be filled all day and not have any switch over with customers."

Whilst some remote workers will continue working from coffee shops, others will be prohibited. This includes JPMorgan employees, who are already banned from working in them, as well as hotels, airports, co-working spots, and even relative homes.

This is because the investment banking company attracts hacking attempts, and it is unsafe for staff to operate company systems on non-company networks or Wi-Fi. In public spaces, there is also the possibility of anyone having nearby access to a JPMorgan employee's laptop and glancing at essential company data.

Furthermore, restricting staff from working at coffee shops and hotels allows them to find a good work-life balance. These places provide a positive atmosphere but should be viewed as non-working spots where work can be forgotten briefly.