The ‘person working in coffee shop’ stereotype is one that no-one wants attached to them but it’s hard to avoid. Coffee shops are just the ideal places to get work done when you can’t work at home and don’t want to go to your office.

A lot of people work in coffee establishments, not because they want to be seen working, but because a change in environment is good for productivity.

And you know what else is good for productivity? Free wi-fi and step-free access to coffee. However, putting aside judgement, working in coffee shops is more productive because of a ‘contagious mental effort’, studies suggest.


As Business Insider report, the study recruited 40 participants to perform reaction-time test involving colours and corresponding buttons. Participants sat in pairs so they could see their partner’s screen but there task wasn’t collaborative. The ’rounds’ of colours alternated from easy to hard.

The point of this was to see what would happen if one person working on a super difficult task saw someone else working on a medium-difficult task. Would they work harder? It turns out that they would.

Simply put, it seems like simply seeing someone else in close proximity working hard will motivate others to work as hard.

Interestingly, the effects persisted even when the partner’s screen was covered and the participants could only see each other’s bodies.

You can’t necessarily see what people are working on in coffee shops but you can see how furiously they’re typing, their posture and how many toilet breaks they’re taking.

So the takeaway from this is that surrounding yourself in motivated and hard-working people will cause an osmosis of motivation.

Whether you actually work in coffee shops or are contained to an office, try sitting next to the hardest working person in the building, the results might surprise you…