Where You Sit Matters: How Your Office Neighbors Affect You at Work

Where You Sit Matters: How Your Office Neighbors Affect You at Work

Physical workspace is something that companies can effectively manage without spending a fortune, and it allows them to increase productivity. Placing the right type of people next to each other at work can dramatically improve organizational performance.

According to a study performed by researchers at Harvard Business School, there are three different kinds of workers:


1. Productive workers: Productive workers are highly productive but don’t always produce quality work.

2. Quality workers:Quality workers produce work of superior quality, but they aren’t always productive.

3. Generalists: Generalists are at an average level of productivity and quality.


The study found that pairing workers with opposite strengths had the best results in terms of improving productivity. Namely, sitting productive workers and quality workers together and then generalists separately achieved the best results.

The impact of seating certain types of workers together is instant but the effects do not last if the workers are eventually separated. For example, if one worker is seated next to a high performer, his performance may get a boost as long as he’s seated in the same place, but if seating arrangements change, then the worker’s performance will go back to its original level. When you work next to the right person, you can be inspired by them or feel competitive, which drives your performance.


The Layout of Your Workspace Also Influences Outcomes

The layout of your workspace and the way workers are seated shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought. To achieve the best results, it’s important to think about what you want to accomplish in your business. Seating arrangements shouldn’t be random. There should be guidelines dictating who sits where. Some companies may even choose to shift employees from one desk to another every few months. Generally speaking, grouping departments together is the best way to foster efficiency and focus.

A growing number of companies have moved toward open seating arrangements with unassigned seating in an attempt to do away with the hierarchy of the office workforce. This trend typically involves seating workers around communal tables and dispersing managers throughout the office. The problem with this type of arrangement is that employees may feel like they have little control over their work environment.

Because a worker’s immediate office neighbors comprise a good portion of the interactions that they have during the workday, it’s important to think carefully about who sits next to each other. Employee temperaments tend to be contagious.

Temperaments can range from calm and relaxed, to stressed out and anxious, to cheerful and high-energy. It may be helpful to sit a cheerful, energetic person amongst quiet people. The cheerful person can get the quiet people to open up and collaborate more. Conversely, the negative behavior of workers can also rub off on those around them, so it’s important to weed out toxic employees when possible.


Improve Your Chances of Success by Sitting in the Right Place During a Meeting

In meetings, where you sit is also important. The reaction you elicit from those around you will depend on where you are sitting. For example, if you sit at the far end of a rectangular table, it will signify that you’re the leader and that you’re taking control. It could also be interpreted as you being intimidating. Round meeting tables are better at creating a more relaxed, collaborative atmosphere.


Assign Seating and Book Workspace Efficiently with Resource Central

Make it easy to book meetings, reserve hot desks, and assign seating for hoteling arrangements with Resource Central. Resource Central is Add-On Products’ meeting room and resource booking software for Microsoft Outlook® and Exchange. Employees can use the tool to book workspaces using the familiar Outlook® interface. Contact Add-On Products today to set up a free trial or free online demo of this tool!

Book demo

Loading hold on...

Chat icon