Can socialising really help you be more productive?
What if we told you that those office conversations about sports and holiday plans weren't just a simple indulgence? What if we said that these water cooler chats actually help propel your productivity? A recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) discovered that workplace socialising had a positive effect on office efficiency.
Researchers, Alex Pentland, Ph.D., of MIT and Benjamin Waber, a doctoral candidate at the MIT Media Lab, measured the correlation between office chatter and productivity by tacking badges with radio transmitters on their research subjects. From there, they monitored chatter on a bunch of different levels. How often did a given volunteer socialise? For how long? How much of their conversation was about work? How much of it wasn't?
Pentland and Waber concluded that professionals with the highest levels of interaction with their coworkers also had the highest levels of productivity. The findings suggest that maybe instead of reprimanding workers for too much downtime, managers and leaders should be encouraging team members to interact more frequently.
What if we told you that those office conversations about sports and holiday plans weren't just a simple indulgence?
What do professionals stand to gain from socialising in the office?
These social interactions have a laundry list of proven benefits. For starters, socialising in work helps professionals build strong emotional support systems.
"Part of chatting is for emotional support. If you don't have face-to-face communication – in fact, physical touch is important too – you become more fragile and more unable to stand up to the stresses and the bumps in the road of work," explained Dr. Pentland to Gallup Business Journal. "You need some people who will stand at your back and defend you from the spears."
But it's not all about the feel-good connections – having more casual interactions with your team members can help you better handle business scenarios as well. When you begin to read a person's personality or preferences on a social level you can then use that understanding to cater your approach in professional settings.
Does this person respond well to direct feedback or do they need to be eased into criticism? Are they more comfortable in a group setting or a one-on-one environment? Picking up on these things can actually create a stronger professional partnership.
Keeping your social interactions within the lines
Socialising is beneficial but at the end of the day you do need to remember that you are in a professional setting. Keep your conversations appropriate for the workplace and try to maintain professional boundaries when necessary.
If you're interested in learning more about how to remain work appropriate while still reaping the benefits of these social interactions – check out Implement Online's course: Conducting Yourself Professionally.