A recent study explains why many of us like to sit in a cafe with a laptop. Indeed, we often manage to work more efficiently this way, if compared to working in the office.
The University of British Columbia has conducted a study of the effectiveness of the working process depending on the level of noise. More than 300 participants of the experiment were asked to perform a series of tasks that required creativity: to think of all the possible ways to use bricks; to imagine how a company for the production of mattresses could improve their products; to play the association game. At the same time, the noise level in the room ranged from almost complete silence to a constant background sound, as in the café, or even to a very loud noise.
It was found that the participants coped with the tasks best when accompanied by an average level of noise. With the presence of a constant background sound, such as in an ordinary cafe, the participants did not only cope better with the tasks that required creativity and played the association game, but also received more praise from their “colleagues”.
As the researchers explain, the high level of noise can be very distracting. It hinders the processing of information and lowers the level of creativity. The medium level of noise (as opposed to low) distracts people at a smaller extent, producing almost no effect on the process of work. The researchers have concluded that such a moderate obstacle, slightly complicating the process of processing information, helps to promote creativity, because it stimulates abstract thinking.