This is fascinating:
A study from Northwestern University in 2017 discovered that sitting within 25 feet of a high performer at work improved an employee’s performance by 15%! Sitting within 25 feet of a low performer hurt their performance by 30%.
They call this “spatial management”:
Which means that companies potentially have a very cheap way to boost productivity—simply shift some desks around—as opposed to relying on expensive training and recruiting, Minor says. In an era where companies are experimenting with open floor plans and other nontraditional seating arrangements, the stakes can be high. Minor’s research provides tangible takeaways for leaders thinking about how to group their staff.
“Companies are realizing that, ‘wow, spatial management really does matter. Let’s put some more work into thinking about how to do it well,’” he says.via Kellog
This only works if you have a physical office, of course, as remote or distributed companies don’t have these types of dynamics (or rather, spatial management isn’t really an option).
But tool choice, instead, matters a great deal. Meaning, the tools and software applications that a business decides to use for communication and work stands in as a proxy for, I suppose, “digital spatial management” in a way.
For instance, my small startup team uses Slack for a lot of our team’s communication and it makes me wonder about usage and participation within these tools and how that impacts not just morale but also productivity.
Making the right tool decisions is vitally important, especially in the early-stages of a company’s developing culture. Make sure to choose tools that reflect the patterns of communication and collective behavior that the team already exhibits and you’ll end up with happier staff in the short and long-run.
This is because these tools are a manifestation of a system and a process that’s essentially your documented culture: Process is culture that’s been captured and codified.
In this way, good tool selection can have a net-positive impact on morale and productivity while bad tool selection has the opposite effect – choose wisely!