Assigning Seats (05-16-17)

Corsello and Dylan Minor assessed how where people sit in a workplace influences their performance.   Data collected over 2 years from thousands of employees at a large tech company with offices in the US and Europe determined that “neighbors have a significant impact on an employee’s performance.”  The researchers “categorized workers into three types: productive workers, who completed tasks quickly but lacked quality; quality workers, who produced superior work but did so slowly; and generalists, who were average across both dimensions. . . . where groups of workers were clustered together, [the investigators] found that the best seating arrangements had productive and quality employees sitting beside each other, because each helped the other improve. . . . When productive workers were seated next to quality workers (and generalists were grouped together), [researchers] found a 13% gain in productivity (speed of work) and a 17% gain in effectiveness (fewer unresolved tasks) in that group. . . . these effects occurred almost immediately but vanished within two months.” Minor and Housman previously reported similar findings from closely related research.

Jason Corsello and Dylan Minor.  2017.  “Want to Be More Productive?  Sit Next to Someone Who Is.”  Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2017/02/want-to-be-more-productive-sit-next-to-someone-who-is.