Could Starbucks Crackdown Spur Business Center Boom


If you live, work and play in New York City, listen up. News headlines are trumpeting a new Starbucks policy that could put the kibosh on so-called laptop loungers. But could the policy also spark a new wave of traffic to coworking facilities and business centers? It’s possible.

Time magazine notes, “At Starbucks, there are laptop users, and then there are those laptop users. The ones who spread all their papers out and stay for hours on end, turning a coffee-shop table into their makeshift cubicle. But it looks like work sessions will start to last only as long as computer batteries—the coffee chain is covering up those coveted electric outlets in at least some of their New York City stores.”

Starbucks hasn’t officially commented on its motives for covering up the electrical outlets. But further investigation suggests there’s a trend afoot to deal with what some are calling laptop hobos. The Wall Street Journal reports, “A sign at Naidre’s, a small neighborhood coffee shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., begins politely enough: “Dear customers, we are absolutely thrilled that you like us so much that you want to spend the day … people gotta eat, and to eat they gotta sit.”

Meanwhile, at the B&N Café in New York City, there’s only one outlet, which discourages laptop hobos from getting too comfortable from the get-go.

“I manage a B&N cafe and we have about 16 tables and a bar with stools which seats about 45 people total. Our cafe is always full of friendly people actually talking with each other, reading books, and enjoying a latte and maybe a slice of cheesecake. How is this possible you ask? We have 1 (one) outlet…period,” wrote Charles on the Starbucks Gossip site.

The point is this: Entrepreneurs have long used coffee shops as a makeshift office space. In fact, coworking was birthed to give those caffeinated entrepreneurs a step up to a more productive working environment. If coffee shops around the world start cracking down on laptop hobos, it could drive them to pay for office space, which could be a boon for coworking facilities and shared office space centers.

So, with that in mind, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to go have a cup of coffee and leave a few business cards around and about. Starbucks might even thank you.

Published Thursday, August 4th, 2011, by Mike Sullivan.


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