I'm typing these very words at a local bookstore/coffee shop. Whenever I have "just-computer" work to do, I try to get out of the house/workshop as much as I can, and often, those days are my most productive of the week. (Provided the wi-fi is reliable). For me, working in public provides just enough distraction: the low din of coffee grinding, the unique and often boring conversations, moms trying to keep their kids from screaming or getting them to eat lunch.
Turns out, there are lots of folks just like me. The Atlantic reports that while telecommuting is a relatively new phenomenon, the need to write and get work done away from the office is not. The author states,
There is... a long history of people - especially writers - working from a favorite coffee shop or cafe rather than an office. Today we tend to associate the phenomenon with the Paris of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, or the coffeehouses of Vienna at the turn of the 20th Century. The poet Peter Altenberg was even known to have mail delivered to his favorite hangout.
In many ways, however, the golden age of the coffeehouse workday is now, as any barista can attest. Over the last decade, I've done a fair amount of work in traditional offices, where I am least efficient, various apartments, where I tend to work longer and more productive hours, and a string of coffee shops, the places where I've turned out the most usable words per working minute.
The article proposes four theories, all of which seem likely for different folks, and therefore, the reason is probably a combo of each.
Fascinating read. And big respect for those of you who excel in silence...I just can't do it.