Research

Working from third places: Boost for creativity?

Photo by slightly everything (Flickr)

Photo by slightly everything (Flickr; Creative Commons)

One of the questions we are asking in this project is what type of work is best done in what type of working environments. As our work is getting more and more mobile with the help of smart phones and cloud computing, the daily tasks we do for living are not anymore bound to our desks at the headquarters or to our home offices. Or at least they should not be. But is working from third places, such as coffee shops or public parks, actually beneficial for our work (and brain) or is it just something we can nowadays do while on a business travel or while flexibly running our daily errands?

A recent study by Ravi Mehta and his colleagues in Journal of Consumer Research found that working in an environment with a relative level of background noise, such as a coffee shop, enhances individuals’ creativity related to high, low and no-noise conditions. The study suggests that “instead of burying oneself in a quiet room trying to figure out a solution, walking out of one’s comfort zone and getting into a relatively noisy environment (such as a café) may trigger the brain to think abstractly, and thus generate creative ideas.” Hence, these results encourage people to leave office to get creative work done.

Working from third places creates requirements for the organizations’ IT support, leadership and HR policies. It also requires self-management skills from the employee. In this blog post a regular coffee shop worker gives some tips how to best utilize one’s work time when working out of the office or home. More data also from the organizations’ perspective will be collected in our project this year, so stay tuned!

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