First appeared in NewsBreak
By Aron Solomon
Cafes have the legal right to forbid the use of laptops in their establishment if they choose to do so. While many cafes welcome customers who want to use their laptops for work or leisure, some cafes may have policies in place that restrict the use of electronic devices like laptops. These policies may be based on the cafe’s size, layout, or type of clientele they cater to.
It’s important to note that if a cafe has a policy against using laptops, they should make it clear to customers so that they can make an informed decision about whether to visit the cafe or not. Additionally, cafes that do allow laptops may have rules around their use, such as limiting the number of electrical outlets available or requiring customers to purchase food or drinks while they work.
Ultimately, cafes have the right to set their own rules around laptop use, as long as those rules don’t violate any laws – for example, they are equally applied to all customers.
Yet is this good policy?
The decision to ban laptops in a cafe depends on the business’s specific goals, target market, and overall strategy. While allowing customers to use laptops can attract a certain demographic, it may also have some drawbacks that could potentially impact the business’s profitability and overall customer experience.
Here are some potential advantages and disadvantages to consider when deciding whether to allow or ban laptops in a cafe:
Advantages of allowing laptops:
Attracts customers who are looking for a place to work or study, which could increase foot traffic and sales during off-peak hours.
Encourages customers to stay longer, which could lead to additional purchases and more revenue.
Creates a welcoming environment for remote workers, students, and freelancers who may become repeat customers.
Disadvantages of allowing laptops:
Takes up space that could be used for other customers, which could lead to overcrowding and decreased turnover.
Creates a more quiet and serious atmosphere that could deter customers who are looking for a more social and lively environment.
May increase the demand for electrical outlets and Wi-Fi, which could lead to additional costs for the business.
As South Florida attorney, John Lawlor, points out:
“While banning laptops is certainly within the rights of any cafe owner, this could alienate a certain demographic of customers who prefer to work or study in cafes. Rather than legislating cafe rules, many cafes choose to offer different seating options that make it equally comfortable for those choosing to work or relax.”
Ultimately, the decision to allow or ban laptops in a cafe depends on the cafe’s goals, target market, and overall strategy. A cafe that wants to create a more social and lively atmosphere may benefit from banning laptops, while a cafe that wants to attract remote workers and students may benefit from allowing them.
Because this isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for cafes, the best thing for cafes to do is test a no-laptop policy to see if it works. The more customers feel that they have a say in how it’s going, the more likely they are to keep coming back.
About Aron Solomon
A Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, Aron Solomon, JD, is the Chief Legal Analyst for Esquire Digital and the Editor-in-Chief for Today’s Esquire. He has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected to Fastcase 50, recognizing the top 50 legal innovators in the world. Aron has been featured in Forbes, CBS News, CNBC, USA Today, ESPN, TechCrunch, The Hill, BuzzFeed, Fortune, Venture Beat, The Independent, Fortune China, Yahoo!, ABA Journal, Law.com, The Boston Globe, YouTube, NewsBreak, and many other leading publications.