Building upon Working Best at Coffee Shops, a great article with several possible explanations about why so many find it more enjoyable and often, more effective, to work in noisy public places.
Another possible explanation:
That working in an unpredictable, yet pleasant, environment keeps your energy levels up. Each person that walks through the door heightens your senses, provides a shot of adrenaline, and otherwise keeps you buzzing. And of course, there’s often a window with a nice view, which for me seems to benefit problem solving similar to pacing around an office.
Oooh, here’s a thought: What if a coffee shop had an explicit co-working section in the same space as the rest of its business? I imagine it would be the best of all worlds. Telecommuters would pay, but then they’d be free to linger without subtle pressure from servers. They’d have easy access to food, power, a desk, and the hum of activity. There’d be no pressure to remain quiet, either. I bet it’d be great.