The cafe that banned Zoom: Coffee shop owners outlaw laptops after remote workers demanded everyone be quiet for online meetings and sat nursing single drink for hours while they tapped away

The cafe that banned Zoom: Coffee shop owners outlaw laptops after remote workers demanded everyone be quiet for online meetings and sat nursing single drink for hours while they tapped away

A coffee shop has banned laptops after remote workers demanded everyone be quiet for online meetings while they nursed a single drink for hours at a time. 

Remote workers typing away in coffee shops at all hours of the working day has become a regular sight since the pandemic but one coffee shop in Canterbury decided to take a stand against the new normal.  

The owners of Fringe and Ginge say people working on computers was ruining the atmosphere of their cafe and since the ban people have started talking more and  they’ve ‘built a community.’ 

Alfie Edwards, who owns the business with his partner Olivia Walsh, said it was a ‘tough decision’ but has been ultimately successful. 

He said: ‘I think what has changed massively in the dynamic and the way that people work. We had some really bad experiences with people, asking us to turn music off so they could do Zoom meetings.

Alfie Edwards (pictured), who owns the business with his partner Olivia Walsh, said it was a 'tough decision' to ban remote workers but has been ultimately successful

Alfie Edwards (pictured), who owns the business with his partner Olivia Walsh, said it was a ‘tough decision’ to ban remote workers but has been ultimately successful

Fringe and Ginge in Canterbury say people working on computers was ruining the atmosphere of their cafe and since the ban people have started talking more and they've 'built a community'

Fringe and Ginge in Canterbury say people working on computers was ruining the atmosphere of their cafe and since the ban people have started talking more and they’ve ‘built a community’

‘Then we just sort of figured out it – this is not what it is about.There are so many places you can go and rent desk space, you can work in the libraries.

‘There are loads of places where they’re dedicated to people working – and they have cafes as well. Here, we just realised we wanted to take hospitality back, have it dedicated to just serving people and letting them have a nice experience.’ 

Mr Edwards and Ms Walsh set up the cafe in July 2020, shortly after the first Covid lockdown restriction was lifted during a high point for remote working as thousands worked from home or faced furlough.

But as time progressed and lockdown rules were removed, workers would spend hours hunched over their computers, typing away in silence.

Describing how the atmosphere changed since the laptop ban, Mr Edwards said: ‘It’s just so nice to have people who were previously strangers that now chat regularly.

‘To see people connecting, we’ve kind of built a community here.

‘It’s a neighbourhood hangout for a lot of people.

‘There are already many places where you can rent desks, or people can work in the library. We aren’t a big space and we’re social here – that’s a big part of it.

‘It’s just something we had to do, you don’t want upset people, but it was the right decision.’

However, other local businesses disagree with Fringe and Ginge’s approach.

Mr Edwards and Ms Walsh set up the cafe in July 2020, shortly after the first Covid lockdown restriction was lifted during a high point for remote working as thousands worked from home or faced furlough

Mr Edwards and Ms Walsh set up the cafe in July 2020, shortly after the first Covid lockdown restriction was lifted during a high point for remote working as thousands worked from home or faced furlough

Describing how the atmosphere changed since the laptop ban, Mr Edwards said: 'It's just so nice to have people who were previously strangers that now chat regularly. 'To see people connecting, we've kind of built a community here'

Describing how the atmosphere changed since the laptop ban, Mr Edwards said: ‘It’s just so nice to have people who were previously strangers that now chat regularly. ‘To see people connecting, we’ve kind of built a community here’

Hannah Swann, 28, who manages the nearby Garage Cafe, said she sympathised with the laptop ban – but would not do so herself.

She said: ‘We allow laptops here, most people are nice about it, sometimes people do take advantage of it, but we usually have enough room in this cafe to be able to carry on and not be too bothered about it.

‘Sometimes I think there might be a certain point where people do take advantage of it, if they just buy one coffee for the whole day sort of thing.

‘But then again, I do feel like most customers are quite nice about it and keep the business going.

‘I think cafes are a nice place to work really, it’s a nice calm environment. I know a lot of people, I know I do, where they kind of need stuff going on around them to focus.

‘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 really.’

Cornwall Live reported that a cafe had stopped serving dairy alternatives after a mother was rushed to hospital following a severe allergic reaction after she was accidentally given cows milk. 

SheSells in Mevagissey in defence of the policy said they changed the policy to ‘dramatically to protect our customers, our staff and our small family business’. 

They said they were only made aware of just how serious the customer’s allergies were in the days following the incident and had they known sooner it could have been prevented.