Coffeehouse Culture: Optimal Distraction

By Sandy Ikeda

At the end of my last Coffeehouse Culture post “Coffeehouse as office”, I asked: What makes working in a coffeehouse more productive than working at home when there seem to be as many distractions in the former as the latter?

There are at least two reasons.

The first is that, because you’re being watched by a number of people, whether they let on or not, you’re more self-conscious in a coffeehouse about getting up all the time (admittedly, surfing the Web may be immune to this social constraint), which raises the cost to you of doing it (and this is in addition to the cost of food and drink) and so you do it less. Consequently, at a coffeehouse I’m less likely to get up for trivial reasons. If I’m going to leave my stuff on the table to get another drink or whatever, it’s a bother and I’m not going to do it too frequently, maybe once an hour instead of every 20 minutes if I’m at home.

The second reason is more important. Continue reading