I've read a few articles lately about the "war" between people who use coffee shops as offices and those who think coffee shops should only be used for socializing/drinking coffee. According to the articles, some coffee shop owners have been covering up outlets with tape, to prevent (people like me) from plugging in laptops and staying for hours.
Clearly, since I often use coffee shops as my office, I can't side with the "social only" folks, especially the ones who want to ban laptops, but I think there's a balance.
I always try to spend enough money to compensate for how long I sit... It's not fair to the owner or other customers if you buy a small coffee at 10:00 am and stay all day. I've considered asking the owner of my local shop whether me sitting here for 3-4 hours some days pisses him off... But he almost always gives me free coffee when he's serving, so I assume not.
Second, I try to be considerate of the customers who are here to socialize and don't expect them to modify their behavior for me. That said, I have been guilty of a sneer or two at really loud talkers. I mean, seriously, some people talk loudly enough to be heard on another planet. But I always carry ear buds, and if a conversation near me is distracting, I plug them into my laptop and turn some music on low to buffer/dull the loud talker.
But another person who uses my local coffee shop as an office is here today... And he's pissing me off. Why? He's been on the phone. Constantly. I've been here for nearly 3 hours and he was here when I came in. Was on the phone then. Is on the phone now. And buddy, shielding your industrial strength headset with your hand doesn't keep me from hearing your very loud, very annoying voice beside me.
Maybe that's where I stand. If someone's distracting me being social, I assume it's my problem, not theirs. But if someone else who's using this public space as an office distracts me, I'm annoyed.
And don't get me started on the groups of 20 or more mommies who come in together with strollers and expect everyone else to move to accommodate them. At least my current fav office away from home is too small for those stroller groups.