A flex worker behind a laptop in a coffee shop is just as common as the sugar bowl on the table. And the coffee manager? "They order one espresso and take half their office with them."
They are an epidemic, says Dirk-Jan Stip of the coffee shop Coffee Corazon in Amersfoort, and it is only getting worse. Stip was a pioneer when it comes to laptop prohibition, he says. A coffee shop, he says, is meant to have a good time together, to drink good coffee, to look each other in the eye, to have your first date or, if necessary, your last.
"That makes catering fun. But the flex workers with their laptops do not pay any attention to the other guests, to the atmosphere. They sit behind a screen, completely closed off from the outside world and look upset when I want to take an order. the coffee industry. "
"No, you can't know that yourself"
And so Stip no longer allows laptops in his café. "In the beginning I sometimes heard: I am allowed to know that myself? No, you are not allowed to know that yourself. It is my cafe. I do not need to facilitate your office." Quarrel, that doesn't happen in Coffee Corazon. "If someone asks why he or she is not allowed to work there, I say: it adds nothing to the conviviality in this cafe. That ends the stocking, because everyone understands that it is."
Sociability or a large turnover do not give these flex workers the average coffee shop. But why they are there, and not just going to work in their own house, that can be explained. A murmur of noise and environmental noises encourage creativity, a study by the University of Chicago shows.
And sitting at home, where no one sees you and no one else is at work, ensures that you at least do not go the extra mile, according to another study by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Effort is contagious, they write. Anyone who sees others at work will also work harder themselves.
'Self-employed people also bring a stir'
Moreover, says Dick Beljaerts, director of the KNH, brachevereniging voor horeca, the hospitality industry is increasingly becoming the living room of society. Work and private life are increasingly merging.
"Entrepreneurs are free to do this and can best determine how they deal with this. We know of coffee shops that do not mind at all if laptop users get into their business, because self-employed people are the ones who get the hang of it. There are coffee shops those laptop users don't mind but try to steer them somewhat, by installing sockets in certain places in the store. "
"They make work agreements here and only take water"
In Black & Bloom, a prize-winning coffee shop in Groningen, a complete laptop ban is used. The business is small, and is all about good coffee, says owner Gerben Engelkes.
"If I don't prohibit laptops, half the case is full of computers. They order one espresso and then only drink water. They go to the toilet here, take their half office, and sometimes make three, four work appointments in my case. And then don't order coffee, just drink water. The tables are full of papers, they walk in and out again to call. And at the end of the day, five euros are charged. "
A coffee shop is not an office, says Engelkes. "I'm also an entrepreneur, and I don't earn anything like that." Since the laptop ban, the pleasant people have returned, says Engelkens. "Of course it is best to use the WiFi code to look up something on your mobile."
For the polite flex worker who doesn't want to disturb anyone: environmental noises and the idea that people are working next to you can be simulated. The Coffitivity website has compiled a playlist for those who thrive in a troubled environment. 'Morning murmur', for example, where you listen to clattering cups, laughter in the background, the sliding of chairs and falling spoons.