Many of us in the real estate investment world do not work in traditional offices. A good number of us, from what I’ve observed, work in wide variety of settings, depending on the day and what’s going on.
As for me, I have what many might think of as too many “offices.”
- I have a very small cubicle in an open corporate office in Austin, where I work four days a week (and yeah, even our VP has a tiny cubicle, but he hides in a tiny “focus room” much of the day so he can do phone calls in private). This office has a high noise level much of the time, especially since there are one or two people in our area with loud phone voices and another who turns her ringer on to top volume, which ruins concentration. It does have a nice window.
- I have an office in the basement of my Austin house, which I share with Anita. That office is very quiet, other than some weird air conditioning noise and a rare dog noise. I work there mornings and evenings, as well as some afternoons when the above office is too much for me. I can work so well there that I forget the time when I’m writing. No windows distract me.
- Then there is the office at The Hermit Haus, which is a “real” office with a door and a fan for white noise. I also work well there. This one also has no windows.
- AND I’ve got an office at the ranch house, which is a large and pleasant room with a window and a door, and even my own bathroom. I’d work better there if it weren’t for three dogs who want attention. This room even has a comfy reading area.
- When traveling, I like to work in hotel lobbies. Secretly, I think I’m people watching.
I bring this up, because as I was perusing LinkedIn this morning (yep, I peruse it to see if anyone’s read my social media stuff), I ran across an article that talks about the effect of sound on productivity. This was just a short blurb that said the “coffee shop effect” may have something to it, that people work better with a certain level of background noise. Since this was just a short blurb, I went off and read the original article.by Otto van der Groen, the researcher who studied the effect of background noise on productivity.
The studies they did found that people who had some random noise stimulation to their brains processed fuzzy images better.
The phenomenon is known as “stochastic resonance”.
They posit that’s why people tend to work better with the hum of an office in the background, music in headphones, or people in a coffee shop. I wonder if traffic outside a window also counts?
It’s important to note that too much noise has a negative effect on productivity, so I’m guessing certain types of restaurants might be better than others. For me, the espresso machines in coffee shops and the people yelling out orders is too much. I guess it isn’t for others.
The researchers also pointed out that different people react to sound differently and experience stochastic resonance in different ways. As van der Groen points out:
The optimal level of noise that can enhance cognitive functions could be different for everyone. That might explain why some people perform best in noisy environments, while others prefer silence.
“There might also be a role played by brain noise in various neurological conditions. For example, it seems that individuals with autism, dyslexia, ADHD and schizophrenia have excessive brain variability compared to others.” – the link goes to the original research
I wonder if this issue is why Lee doesn’t like to work in the Hermit Haus office as much as in his home office? Maybe the home’s dog noise, washing machines, and his music provide the stimulation he needs, and the work office lacks that. It could also explain why he did not like working in the office in the garage, as we’d originally intended.
So, how about you? Do you make better investment, buying, and selling decisions in quiet, medium, or noisy environments? Do you need to make a change?
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