There is a time for everything. And the grey days of November may be the best time for job-hunters to head to the nearest coffee shop with free wifi.
According to science, setting up office in the hustle and bustle of a café can help you stay positive and be more creative than working alone, in silence, in your home.
In a series of experiments, researchers at the University of Illinois found that working on your computer amid the chatter and whoosh of espresso machines of coffee shops creates just the right level of background noise to enhance performance.
According to the study, we do well with extreme quiet when we need to focus on detailed, concrete tasks – such as filing our taxes or proofreading resumes. But when it comes to activities that require abstract thinking, such as writing emails to connect with contacts, the sound of silence can be deafening.
Extreme quiet can distract us – just as much as trying to work when it’s too loud. To be specific, research shows we have problems thinking out-of-the-box when the noise level is a relatively low 50 decibels. We do even worse when the noise level is a loud 85 decibels — which is the level of a blender or garbage disposal.
But the study found the ambient noise of café, which is about 70 decibels, is seemingly perfect for brainstorming — even if we’re just brainstorming with ourselves.
That’s reason enough for job-seekers to spend some time drafting a good covering letter in a café. It takes creative problem-solving to come up with a letter that tells people why you’re right for the job, in three paragraphs or so.
And it takes inspired thinking to draft an email let your contacts know you’re available for full-time or contract work — or to come up with a good post for Linkedin or Twitter. Still, it is more than worth the effort – and the price of a coffee. About 44% of job opportunities come through networking.
At The Bagg Group, we have often suggested to job-seekers who are feeling unmotivated that they try taking their work to a coffee-shop. We know that when people are actively looking for full-time, contract or temporary placement, it’s important to feel part of the world – not isolated from it.
Heading to a coffee house, to be among others who are reading, working, or chatting can be a substitute for a lively workplace, when you need motivation.
Still, if you can’t get to a coffee shop, there’s now a website called Coffitivity that brings the sounds of a coffee shop to you.
The site was the brainchild of by a group of people in the US who would meet at a coffee shop to work on an unrelated start-up. “We had been in and out of coffee shops, and we were getting really good work done,” said Ace Callwood, a founder of the site.
One member of the team, Justin Kauszler, noticed that his productivity took a nosedive when he was working in the quiet hush-hush environment of his regular office.
When Kauszler’s boss was unable to meet his request to work from a coffee shop, he and his colleagues decided that they would bring their favorite coffeehouses to their computers. According to The New York Times, within three months, Coffitivity had over two million page views.
Since then, traffic has “exploded,” Callwood told The New York Times. “Seoul, Korea, is our top user city. New York City is second, followed by London, L.A. and Chicago.”
Callwood and his colleagues at Coffitivity say they are now adding new coffee shop soundtracks tailored to specific countries.
Hopefully, another group working a café will brainstorm how to mix in the scent of fresh brewed coffee along with sounds of the coffee shop.