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Published: Verve Magazine, February 2014

There’s a new app on the market that accurately replicates coffee-shop murmurs while you work to help your creative juices to flow

Some like to work in silence, but apparently it’s an anathema for those who like feeling the heady buzz of sound. In an increasingly connected world, it seems that people are feeling more disconnected and alone. From quiet cubicles to work-from-home dens people don’t like to work in isolation. So to circumvent this, young professionals have taken to Coffitivity like an only child takes to company. The online app provides three kinds of background noise. ‘Morning Murmur’ (a gentle hum to get the day started), ‘Lunchtime Lounge’ (bustling chatter of the lunchtime rush) and ‘University Undertones’ (the scholarly sounds of a campus café).

The noise that would be strange and annoying to someone who is passing by your workstation is actually strangely comforting while you work. While you would expect it to destroy your ability to concentrate, it actually soothes you and helps you focus better. Its tagline actually says, ‘Enough noise to work’! Their positioning relies upon research that states that ‘it’s pretty hard to be creative in a quiet space’, while a ‘loud workspace can be frustrating and distracting’, so they provide a perfect mix of ‘calm and commotion’ to replicate the environment in a coffee house. The sounds include those of clinking cups, cash registers and murmurs of conversation floating around you. It’s kept soft and muted in the background, is never invasive and a perfect sensory accompaniment to the steaming cup of your favourite brew.

With the strong coffee house culture flowing into India from Europe and America, many business meetings and discussions are held over a cuppa at a coffee shop. There is a pervasive ‘social’ feeling that allows for a discussion that isn’t held within a bubble. You don’t feel cut off from the world, you feel that you are a part of the world. There is a relaxed and casual attitude to a work discussion that you don’t get in a closed-door conference room.

While it forms a clever replacement to music that some people prefer while working, and it grows on you as you have it on, all I can say is that for someone who can be the most creative in silence, I felt a sense of relief and a lightness in my head when it was switched off. And really, nothing can replace the soft chirping of a real bird in the background….