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Do cafés make us more creative? Why working remotely from your local coffee shop can boost productivity (and tips for doing it effectively)

Tuesday 01 March, 2022

Do cafés make us more creative?

Why working remotely from your local coffee shop can boost productivity (and 5 tips for doing it effectively)

As Harry Potter author JK Rowling once said, “It's no secret that the best place to write is in a café. You don't have to make your own coffee, you don't have to feel like you're in solitary confinement and if you have writer's block, you can get up and walk to the next café while giving your batteries time to recharge.”

If you thought it was just the caffeine, it may surprise you to learn there’s hard science behind the idea that working from your local coffee shop can boost your brain power and lead to peak productivity.

Researchers claim that ambient noise and contact with other customers are factors that combine perfectly in a café to create the ideal remote-workplace “brew”. The theory has even been given a name – “the coffee shop effect”.

Our brains benefit from background noise

Too much loud noise can undoubtedly hamper our efforts to work. But research shows many people’s brains react positively to a moderate amount of random sound.

Paradoxically, minor distractions created by background hubbub (exactly like the sort you come across in a coffee shop) boost our abstract thinking ability, which can lead to better creative idea generation and decision making.

Concentration is contagious

With remote and hybrid work being the norm post-Covid, it’s especially common to be in a café amongst other customers who’ve also come to work.

This is a powerful motivator – studies show that you tend to focus more on a task when you see a group of people around you doing the same thing.

Tips for working from a café

While working from a coffee shop may be the perfect way to vary your work environment and support your local café businesses, organisation and empathy are key. Tips for working effectively include

  1. Be mindful of the space. Set yourself up in a cosy nook or less prominent place if possible. Don’t take up room at a big table and, if there’s no other option, be prepared to share.
  2. Keep your tech in check. Overly loud phone conversations are a big turn-off for fellow café patrons. Lower your voice and avoid unnecessary calls. Keep your computer, laptop and other bits and bobs well organised and out of the way.
  3. Be social. Staying focused doesn’t mean you can’t say hi, smile and have a quick chat to cafe staff and other customers. After all, social contact is one of the biggest perks of working in a café environment.
  4. Show your support. Support the businesses you visit by ordering a coffee, snack or meal. Other ways to show your appreciation? Grab some takeaway or leave a tip for great service.
  5. Set a limit. As appealing as it is to have the option of working from your local coffee shop, short focused sessions are best. Avoid overstaying your welcome – it’s not beneficial for you or the café owner, and may actually hamper your ability to get work done.

Looking for a local café to work in?

If you’re working from home in Double Bay or around the east, enjoy a change of pace with a visit to Kiaora Place’s fabulous cafés like White Rabbit and Bake Bar. Or you could treat yourself to a delicious light lunch while you work at Little Jean.