Individual Research Day – About communal space & productivity

Water cooler socializing recognizes needs of employees

 Socializing around the water cooler or over a cup of coffee in the break room when it’s not “break time” has always been one of those things that many companies have had a low tolerance for. However, new research is showing that employees who socialize together are often much more productive than those who don’t. Individuals in a team of employees that socialize with each other will often recognize the needs of their fellow employees; both personally and in the working environment. This further leads to recognition of team member strengths and weaknesses. If these individuals work together with that knowledge, tasks can be assigned more effectively according to the strengths of each team member.

More breaks creates productivity

 Research done at MIT shows that nearly half of the productivity generated by a project team is directly related to social interaction and communication. A factor that is easy to overlook in its simplicity is that employees who spend company time socializing are happier. Happier employees tend to be more productive. Obviously, if John is spending an inordinate amount of time standing in Sue’s office doorway chatting it up about fashion trends, it may be something to take a closer look at.

As counter-intuitive as it may sound, providing employees with adequate breaks is essential for improving overall productivity. Break time not only gives employees something to look forward to, but also gives them a chance to recharge their batteries before diving back into work. More often than not, they’ll come back refreshed and ready to focus for another couple of hours until the next break.

Drinking-places as a form of productive collaboration

Socializing also invites collaboration. Some of the conversations around the drinking places are often not work related, however, many times subjects dealing with certain issues that are happening related to a particular project will come up and the impromptu meeting will allow for a collective look at how to solve it. New ideas and solutions for problems will be created as well. Another positive aspect of socializing at work is when employees from different project teams interact. The same principals of knowledge transfer and collaboration apply to this type of social mingling as well. Employees will spend time talking about their kids, but ultimately they want whatever project they’re working on to succeed and conversations will always tend to head in those directions.

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