LONDON – There’s something oddly endearing about the rise of the coffice, largely in part due to how coffee shops helped launch 17th-century Britain into a more productive era.
Author Steve Johnson explained in a 2010 TED talk that prior to the invention of the coffee house, everyone stumbled around drunk – water wasn’t to be trusted, so the populace used alcohol as an antibacterial agent.
Along came tea and coffee, sobering up their minds, and innovation took flight. And the trend seems to be continuing with the rise of the coffice.
“They were sharper and more alert,” he said. “It’s not an accident that a great flowering of innovation happened as England switched to tea and coffee. But the architecture of the space was just as important. It was where people would get together from different backgrounds, various fields of expertise, and share.
“It was a space where ideas could have sex. This was their conjugal bed, in a sense. And an astonishing number of innovations from this period have a coffee house somewhere in their story.”
The trend seems to have been embraced once more with the advent of the “coffice”, where you work from a coffee shop. It seems to be the favourite office alternative for four out of five employees, with 81 per cent spending three and a half hours there each week.
The findings, unveiled by MyVoucherCodes, highlights the trend is far from the preserve of startups and the self-employed.
Even three out of four staff working for companies with over 250 employees prefer working from a coffice – “with the approval of their bosses no less,” MyVoucherCodes noted. “These bosses may be increasingly aware of the added monetary value that working from a coffice brings.”
It was explained that business deals have a high success rate when done from a coffee shop, with the average deal being valued at £1,732. According to the research, this represents a £14.53bn contribution to the UK economy.
Of course, many have doubted how productive one can be in a place with so much noise. However, noise isn’t a creative stopper – it’s the exact opposite. This was highlighted by research from the University of Illinois, undertaken by Ravi Mehta, Rui Zhu and Amar Cheema.
They found that background noise typical of a coffee shop enhanced both performance and creativity. Mehta explained that silence often sharpened your focus to the point of preventing you from thinking outside the box.
“This is why if you’re too focused on a problem and you’re not able to solve it,” Mehta said. “You leave it for some time and then come back to it and you get the solution.”
While it has its benefits, there is one con: you can’t just sit there and not not order anything! It’s no surprise then that Brits can spend over £2,160 a year working from a coffice – that’s eight per cent of the average salary.
In terms of what they’re buying, most look to cappuccinos to power their work (26 per cent), closely followed by a latte (21 per cent). Only eight per cent order tea.