What are the top 3 ways to make an office happier and more productive?

“Reality mining” research by Ben Waber’s team came up with three issues that can improve workplace satisfaction as well as increase productivity by up to 25%.

1) Team members with big networks thrive. People who sat at lunch tables with more friends were more productive:

“We found that the people who sat at the larger tables had substantially higher performance,” observes Waber. This is because they had created a much bigger network to tap into. Over the course of the week, they saw the same people again and again. Consequently, they often knew what these colleagues were working on and could go to them if they had a problem. The employees at the smaller tables, on the other hand, had smaller networks and less opportunity to interact.

2) Companies need to use the physical space so that the right people are naturally interacting with each other:

The physical environment is also a huge social lever. Waber finds that companies often don’t think strategically about the people they want interacting with each other. “If you are stuck in an office far away from everyone you work with, it’s unlikely that you will be talking to anyone else.” Your location can affect morale and productivity, as can a workplace where everyone sits in their offices with the doors closed. You need to have the right groups bumping into and talking to each other.

3) Reduce e-mail:

“The more e-mail you engage in, the less effective you are,” says Waber. “People think being on the computer is the same as being face to face. That’s a fallacy.”

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