A New Way of Improving Employee Productivity
Chloe Xu, Australia, Premium Member
Besides the categories you mention, another possibility to improve employee productivity is (Hawthorne Experiments
6. Physical location/circumstances for workers.
Organizations have been spending millions on office architecture, from maintaining a balance of open areas and quiet spaces to non-reservation-based hoteling, in order to improve employees’ productivity at the workplace. Recently, a research conducted by Michael Housman and Dylan Minor suggests a very cost-effective way of improving productivity in this category: simply rearranging the seating plan
The research examined data on over 2,000 tech workers and, based on 2 core performance dimensions (quality and productivity), categorized them into three groups:
- Quality workers: excel in terms of quality, but fall short on output
- Productive workers: very productive, but lack in quality
- Generalists: average on both dimensions
According to the research, those who are strong in a given dimension are not sensitive to performance spillover in that dimension. But those who are weak in a given dimension are much more sensitive to spillover in that dimension, compared to the average. This finding opens the opportunity to pair complementary workers to enhance overall organizational performance
. For the technology firm that was studied, symbiotic pairing of workers with different strengths resulted in a performance increase of ±15%.
Based on these findings, managers who wish to produce greater team performance, can simply adjust the physical placement of workers at nearly no cost. Because different organizations have different tasks and different kinds of spillover, it is essential to identify which spillovers exist and how they affect various workers before having a new seating plan.
Source: Housman, Michael and Minor, Dylan, Organizational Design and Space: The Good, the Bad, and the Productive (October 30, 2016). Harvard Business School Working Paper 16-147. Available at SSRN