职场

坐在咖啡馆里工作比在办公室更有效率

我们每个人可能都曾有过那样的经历,当我们在咖啡馆里工作时,周边有一些微微的喧闹,背景有一定的噪音,然而却觉得自己更加专注了,工作效率更高了;反之,在办公室里工作的话,反而不能那样专注,虽然办公室里也会总是有各种声音,特别是同事之间的谈话,但就是不如在咖啡馆里可以让你静下心来。许多人甚至发现一个规律,在咖啡馆里工作让人更有创造性,更能激发灵感。

国外这个团队专门对这一现象进行的试验研究,在一定强度和密度的背景噪音里, 人们的大脑在抽象思维方面的能力会被激发出来,而正是抽象思维是创造性和灵感的重要来源, 可以让工作事半功倍。那为什么办公室里周边也有噪音,却没有这样良好的影响呢?主要是因为办公室里的噪音主要是对话,而这种对话经常会和你有关,会让你不得不去注意它,中断思维的流动,打断手头的工作,反而使工作效率减低。就像我们经常说的,在喧嚣的人群中反而更感到更孤独的道理一样,有相对强度的噪音的咖啡馆里,你觉得孤独,不会被打扰,所以如果你有重要的工作不想被打断,那么找一个咖啡馆坐下,打开笔记本,更能保持专注地完成工作。

 

原文链接:https://hbr.org/

抄录:

Why You Can Focus in a Coffee Shop but Not in Your Open Office

By David Burkus,

A few years ago, during a media interview for one of my books, my interviewer said something I still ponder often. Ranting about the level of distraction in his open office, he said, “That’s why I have a membership at the coworking space across the street — so I can focus.”

While I fully support the backlash against open offices, the comment struck me as odd. After all, coworking spaces also typically use an open office layout.

But I recently came across a series of studies examining the effect of sound on the brain that reveals why his strategy works.

From previous research, we know that workers’ primary problem with open or cubicle-filled offices is the unwanted noise.

 

But new research shows that it may not be the sound itself that distracts us…it may be who is making it. In fact, some level of office banter in the background might actually benefit our ability to do creative tasks, provided we don’t get drawn into the conversation. Instead of total silence, the ideal work environment for creative work has a little bit of background noise. That’s why you might focus really well in a noisy coffee shop, but barely be able to concentrate in a noisy office.

One study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, found that the right level of ambient noise triggers our minds to think more creatively. The researchers, led by Ravi Mehta of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, examined various levels of noise on participants as they completed tests of creative thinking.

Participants were randomized into four groups and everyone was asked to complete a Remote Associates Test (a commonly used measurement that judges creative thinking by asking test-takers to find the relationship between a series of words that, as first glance, appear unrelated). Depending on the group, participants were exposed to various noise levels in the background, from total silence to 50 decibels, 70 decibels, and 85 decibels. The differences between most of the groups were statistically insignificant; however, the participants in the 70 decibels group (those exposed to a level of noise similar to background chatter in a coffee shop) significantly outperformed the other groups. Since the effects were small, this may suggest that our creative thinking doesn’t differ that much in response to total silence and 85 decibels of background noise — the equivalent of a loud garbage disposal or a quiet motorcycle. Since none of us presumably want to work next to a garbage disposal or motorcycle, I found this surprising.

But since the results at 70 decibels were significant, the study also suggests that the right level of background noise — not too loud and not total silence — may actually boost one’s creative thinking ability. The right level of background noise may disrupt our normal patterns of thinking just enough to allow our imaginations to wander, without making it impossible to focus. This type of “distracted focus” appears to be the optimal state for working on creative tasks. As the authors write, “Getting into a relatively noisy environment may trigger the brain to think abstractly, and thus generate creative ideas.”

In another study, researchers used frontal lobe electroencephalographic (EEG) machines to study the brain waves of participants as they completed tests of creativity while exposed to various sound environments. The researchers found statistically significant changes in creativity scores and a connection between those scores and certain brain waves. As in the previous study, a certain level of white noise proved the ideal background sound for creative tasks.

So why do so many of us hate our open offices? The quiet chatter of colleagues and the gentle thrum of the HVAC should help us focus. 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. Indeed, the EEG researchers found that face-to-face interactions, conversations, and other disruptions negatively affect the creative process. By contrast, a coworking space or a coffee shop provides a certain level of ambient noise while also providing freedom from interruptions.

Taken together, the lesson here is that the ideal space for focused work is not about freedom from noise, but about freedom from interruption. Finding a space you can hide away in, regardless of how noisy it is, may be the best strategy for making sure you get the important work done.

 

David Burkus is the best-selling author of three books, including the forthcoming Friend of a Friend, and Associate Professor of Leadership and Innovation at Oral Roberts University. For more information, visit his website.
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