This One Simple Change Will Completely Revolutionize the Way You Work

Hint: Science says we may only be as good as the company we keep.

This-One-Simple-Change-Will-Completely-Change-the-Way-You-Work_428959477_SFIO-CRACHOSFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock

Think your office’s open floor plan is taking a serious toll on your productivity? It’s not your imagination; according to the BBC, we’re 15 percent less productive in open working spaces. But don’t count this office trend out just yet! As it happens, the secret to boosting your performance at work could actually rely on them.

Research suggests that physical proximity to a high-achieving colleague can boost our own productivity and effectiveness—and that goes for practically any job. (You could also try these almost effortless ways to be more productive.) Simply sitting at a desk beside a high achiever can improve a co-worker’s performance by up to 16 percent, according to a two-year study published by the Harvard Business School.

Researchers at Northwestern University gathered data from 2,452 help-desk and other client-service workers at a technology company. They analyzed personnel files, seating-arrangement reports, task-tracking software, and customer-satisfaction surveys in the company’s U.S. and European offices.

In the end, those with a positive workplace trait improved their colleagues’ performance across the board. For example, when placed next to slower colleagues, the most productive employees raised their co-workers’ productivity by eight percent. Workers who were more effective at handling customer issues improved their neighbors’ effectiveness by 16 percent. And those with the highest ratings from customers improved their nearby colleagues’ quality ratings by three percent, the study said. (Naturally successful people also do these five things at work every day.)

A high performer’s work ethic doesn’t decline as a result of their low-achieving neighbors. Instead, through good example and a bit of peer pressure, their presence can actually inspire and encourage their colleague’s performance, according to Dr. Dylan Minor, lead author and assistant professor of managerial economics at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School.

So the next time you feel unproductive at work, find a colleague whose work ethic you admire and move your desk a little closer to him or her. (Or at least try this productivity trick all the greatest thinkers had in common.)

[Source: Wall Street Journal]

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