So we know that having your boss or a co-worker standing in view of your computer screen makes you minimise YouTube and look busy – but some new research suggests that just the presence of others in the room can increase your productivity. This is based on the psychological term ‘Social Facilitation’ – which means an improvement on performance based on the presence of others. This is nothing new- but a new study in France managed to explain how this works.
This study was done on monkeys (so could we apply it to humans – hmm?), the monkeys were trained to touch images, and their performance in this simple task significantly improved in the presence of other monkeys – demonstrating social facilitation.
Attention- not motivation:
The activity of the circuits in the brain controlling motivation did not change, but when other monkeys were present the circuits controlling attention were really active. This shows that company can make us more attentive – which causes an increase in productivity.
What does this research mean for us?
If company improves our attention and productivity, does this explain why so many of us prefer to study in a library than alone at home? (until the person next to you starts to eat really loud crisps – then the whole theory is moot) If further research is done maybe this could make workplaces steer clear of using private offices and have everybody work in one big office together – although I am sure some big, human studies would need to be done to convince some people to give up their swanky private office space.
Till next time,