Does Working in a Cafe Increase Creativity and Productivity?
Productivity boost is not easy to maintain. I bet you know a feeling which I am embarrassingly familiar with, the feeling you get a few hours after lunch when you are ready to do everything, except work. Tasks are waiting, but all you can do is sit and stare at that blinking text cursor in the hope it will stop taunting you and just disappear. It certainly can be frustrating as you want to be successful at work and stay motivated there. A possible solution when you find yourself slouching on your chair having the zilch motivation?
Photo by Kiyun Lee
You may not believe it but yes, packing your laptop and heading to a café with a reliable WiFi might be the way to go. Walk into any café and you will see people who are there not to socialize, relax or even drink coffee but to work. They may be surrounded by many people but yet, they are typing intently on their laptops, deeply engaged with their task. This might seem counter-intuitive. Why would anyone need to get work done seek out an environment filled with potential distractions? Because it is scientifically proven to increase your creativity and productivity!
New research has shown that the right level of ambient noise triggers our minds to think more creatively. Participants exposed to various levels of noise, while they completed tests on creative thinking, were examined. The noise levels ranged from total silence to 85 decibels. The differences between most of the groups were statistically insignificant, however, the 70 decibels (similar to background chatter in a café) group performed considerably better than the other groups. This suggests that with the right level of background noise, not total silence and not too loud, it does improve performance on creative tasks. From an office perspective, it may not be the noise that distracts us but rather, it may be who is making it as we usually cannot stop ourselves from getting drawn into office chatter. Why do you think so many creators, including J.K. Rowling, wrote their masterpieces in coffee shops?
Another study suggests that one reason why you could be more productive in coffee shops is that mental effort is “contagious”. Researchers recruited dozens of participants to perform a reaction-time test. The task for the people got tougher and easier alternately. Participants sat in pairs so that they could see the other person’s screen although the task was not collaborative. The main point of analysis was when a person was working on an extremely difficult task, will the other person who is working on an easier task end up working harder. Sure enough, the outcome was positive. It seems like when you see or are around people who are motivated and working hard, it is sufficient to make ourselves work harder and be more productive. Thus, choose the right café if you decide to work in one.
At first thought, it might seem weird that a coffee shop would be the place to skyrocket your focus and motivation. It hardly seems conducive to increase productivity, especially with all the endless noise. However, as we know now, there are a few science-backed reasons that explained why. Despite the benefits, please do not quit your job in a hurry and rush to the nearest café for motivation and ideas.