workplace productivity

A professional writer and passionate blogger, Sampurna has been lending her expertise to the online world by penning articles, guest posts and blogs on career, business and employment for a quite some time now. She also an avid reader; loves travelling and photography.

Does your workplace neighbour influence your productivity? Well, it does. Studies have confirmed that an employee’s productivity at workplace is influenced a lot depending upon his or her workplace neighbour.

It is true that if you sit next to someone who works truly hard, even you tend to follow suit. In a study conducted by On Demand Cornerstone and Harvard Business School, it was confirmed that, our workplace productivity depends substantially on our neighbour. The research says that, workplace seating arrangements have a significant impact on employee performance. The researchers analyzed collected data of over 2000 employees of a technology firm that operates from multiple locations across US and Europe, spanning over 2 years. According to the findings, making the “right type of workers” sit in close proximity to each other, showed a 15% increase in organizational performance. Well…sounds incredible isn’t it?

Now, workplace productivity and performance spillover can either be positive or negative. Studies also found that approximately 10% of a worker’s performance tend to spill onto their neighbours. So, when you replace an average performer with one who is twice as productive, it will increase the productivity of their neighbour by at least by 10% on an average.

Which workers are impacted the most?

According to the research, workers are categorized into three types:

  • Productive workers: quick at completing tasks, usually lacks quality
  • Quality workers: produces superior quality; but slow
  • General: both average in terms of quality and time
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The study sample comprised 25% each productive and quality workers and the remaining 50% were generalists. It was found that making two productive workers sit next to each other did not impact productivity much nor did placing quality workers together increase their quality of work. As far as generalists are concerned, they were the least affected.

So, which workers are to be paired up?

The research further stated that, pairing quality and productive workers and then generalists, increased organizational performance and productivity by at least 15%. So, basically making workers of opposite nature sit together can have a positive impact on employees’ productivity. Quoting the report, “in total, based on our empirical estimates, for an organization of 2000 workers, symbiotic spatial management could add an estimated $1 million per annum to profit.”

How to deal with toxic co-workers?

Well, dealing with toxic workers is a task in itself. It has been reported that toxic employees tend to have a negative impact on their surroundings and co-workers. In fact, at times both productive and quality workers were also susceptible to be negatively affected by the venoms of toxic employees. Harvard researchers opine that, in such cases, companies must work towards strengthening their employee engagement surveys to understand how employees feel about office culture and work environment. Surveys can often help in rooting out toxicity by coming up with an early warning signs for managers and HR personnel.

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Ensuring spatial management of workers

So, an organization should consider investing some time in the seating arrangements of employees as well. But it that important or even critical in that regard? Perhaps not. But, if implemented, the results will definitely start surfacing and overall team’s performance can be improved. Office designs, setups will vary from organization to organization and can be implemented, once various kinds of spillovers are identified. In this way, organizations can make the most of an inexpensive method to boost employee performance and organization’s culture.

Source: Harvard Business Review

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