photo: Madison Bilsborough/Unsplash

Where do you work? If you’re like a growing number of Americans, it may be from your home. Scratch that. It may be from Starbucks. You may think Starbucks is a place to hang with your friends and sip lattes. But it’s also kind of the new boardroom, and cubicle and office. Really. Look around the next time you hop in to pick up the latest greatest Frappuccino that’s made it from the “secret menu” to the legit real one. Chances are that you’ll spy a flurry of flying fingers, typing away on their laptops.

So why do so many WAHM’s, WAHD’s, freelancers and other adults who don’t work in a traditional office environment choose Starbucks? Well, there’s the whole coffee thing. A steady stream of caffeinated goodness certainly doesn’t hurt during the work day. But that’s not all.

Then-Ph.D. student Ravi Mehta was meeting up with fellow students at a Starbucks when an idea struck him. The group was coming up with potential research topics when Mehta had a brainstorm — they should study Starbucks. Having always preferred to work from the coffee retailer, Mehta (who is now an associate professor in the Department of Business Administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) wanted to know how the distractions at Starbucks affected the worker’s brain.

Mehta, and his colleagues, looked at different noise levels and how they impacted the worker’s ability to come up with new ideas and work productively. And what did they find? It seems that the noise level you’d find in any Starbucks is just moderate enough to get you thinking on a “higher plane.” Yep, that’s right. All of that background chatter isn’t as much distracting as it is beneficial. At least, when it comes to promoting abstract thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Do you use Starbucks as your office? Does the atmosphere help to increase your productivity? Tell us in the comments below.