Have you gone to a cafe and found there are no seats left because people are using tables as their work spaces? We speak with Merlyn Griffiths from UNC Greensboro about a study she conducted on this phenomenon. - 

A new study published in the Journal of Service Research finds that customers are increasingly using public spaces -- in places like cafes -- as extensions of their offices or homes.

But this sort of territorial behavior can be problematic for consumers looking to enjoy their cup of coffee -- while sitting down at a table.

"There are a lot of consumers who go into these spaces and one of the objectives is to purchase, consume, and leave. But when they go in and they find that space is completely occupied with people who have maybe been there for four hours, bought one cup of coffee, have the cup still sitting there to display the logo... The person who wants to go, buy and eat in 15-20 minutes cannot do that."

It can also cause issues for businesses as well, right? Not always.

"The interesting thing is the proprietors of most of these spaces believe that it's best to have people in the space to show that there's occupancy in the space than not."

We speak with the study's co-author, Merlyn Griffiths, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, about her findings. To listen to the full interview, click the play button on the audio player above.

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson