22/06/2018 12:19 SAST | Updated 22/06/2018 12:19 SAST

Believe It Or Not, People Are More Productive In A Coffee Shop Than In An Office

...and employers need to pay attention to this.

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Coffee shops may just be more work-friendly than open-plan offices, suggests work published in the Harvard Business Review. One of the biggest reasons for this is unwanted noise from your colleagues.

But noise is not all that bad, in fact, previous research has found that employees tend to be more creative in spaces where there's some noise, compared to the almost dead silence open-plan offices normally provide. The problem may ultimately be what kind of noise and who is making it.

"The problem may be that, in our offices, we can't stop ourselves from getting drawn into others' conversations or from being interrupted while we're trying to focus. By contrast, a coffee shop provides a certain level of ambient noise while also providing freedom from interruptions," wrote David Burkus.

And according to Inc's Geoffrey James, coffee shops operate under different social systems than open-plan offices and these are some of the reasons why they're great:

  • The nature of conversations you'll overhear

It's unlikely in a coffee shop that you'll overhear a conversation that will be relevant to you or your job. "By contrast, in an open-plan office, any conversation is potentially relevant. As a result, your brain is going to keep half an ear cocked when anybody is talking," said James.

  • The behaviour of superiors

If your boss or manager sits with you in an open-plan office, he or she can hold a loud conversation and there is little that can be done about it.

"Is he being a jerk? Sure. But while people may resent it if he has enough political clout, not only will he get away with it, but the fact he can get away with it will emphasise and reinforce his status as well," said James.

  • Headphones or not, disturbances are common at the office

Headphones can cancel the noise around you, but only in a coffee shop will you be relatively certain no one will ask you to remove them.

"In an open-plan office, other people feel empowered to catch your eye and demand your attention. They may even believe they're doing the company a favour by pulling you away from your playlist and back into the real world," noted James.

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Previous research against open-plan offices has suggested that amongst other things they create time-consuming distractions, encourage office politics, blunt brainpower, decrease productivity and communicate a lack of trust.

So maybe coffee workspaces are the way of the future? Millennials certainly think so. A Fidelity survey found that millennials will take a pay cut for a more flexible work environment.

And according to another report by Fuze, 83 percent of workers don't think they need to be in an office to be productive, and 38 percent said they would enjoy their job more if they were allowed to work remotely.