The mindless chit chat of strangers. The non-stop noisy work of the barista frothing milk and grinding coffee. You'd think it'd be difficult to focus in an environment surrounded by so many distractions.
In fact, the busy coffee shop is one of the most productive work environments. A study from Japanese researchers found it's more conducive to your productivity than working from your office.
Conducted by researchers at Yamaguchi University, scientists asked volunteers to complete a series for tasks that demanded their focus. Some of the participants completed the tasks while meaningless noises played in the background. Others were surrounded by conversations. Researchers measured success and monitored brain activity to see if participants were processing the noises or ignoring them.
The results? The meaningless noises prevailed for participants' productivity. This group was not only more successful, but also strained less to process the sounds around them. What the researchers discovered reveals why your office might be the least productive place for you to get meaningful work done.
Meaningless noise > meaningful conversations
At the office, you're surrounded by your colleagues. Their conversations are more likely to distract you because they pertain to your work. The researchers called these "meaningful conversations." If someone close by is having a meaningful conversation, you can't help but to listen.
Work in an open office? You're in even worse luck. Open floor plans rarely take into consideration soundproofing in their design. (It's no surprise that an open floor plan is one of the most-despised office design trends.)
The beauty of a bustling coffee shop is that you don't know anyone. Conversations between strangers are less likely to carry your interest. Plus there's ambient noise, which helps to drown out some of the conversations happening around you. These meaningless noises and overhead conversations aren't as distracting.
"Surrounding conversations often disturb the business operations conducted in such open offices," Dr. Takahiro Tamesue told the Telegraph. "Because it is difficult to soundproof an open office, a way to mask meaningful speech with some other sound would be of great benefit for achieving a comfortable sound environment."
Of course, everyone can't simply ditch their office and head to a coffee shop. Luckily there's an easy way to bring the soothing coffee shop din to your desk. Grab your headphones and plug into Coffeevity. The app recreates the clatter and chatter of a busy coffee shop.