If your office is anything like ours, you’ve seen a sharp uptick in telecommuting. Hey, if you can do your job from anywhere with an internet connection, why fight traffic, right?
Fair enough. But just because you can work alone doesn’t mean you should eschew other people entirely.
A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology has found that people who work in the presence of other people who are also working end up increasing their own motivation. Researchers had participants meet in small groups and issued each person a puzzle to work on. Some groups were told that everyone was working on the same puzzle and that they’d receive tips from their group members. In reality, all the puzzles were different, and the tips came from researchers. Other groups were simply issued puzzles and were told that they were working on something different than each other.
The first group ended up doing better on the puzzles. In particular, they persisted forty-eight to sixty-four per cent longer, reported more interest in the task, became less tired by having to persist on the task, and were more willing to do a similar task in a separate setting two weeks later.
According to study author Gregory Walton, “Our research shows that it is possible to create a spirit of teamwork as people take on challenging individual tasks—a feeling that we’re all in this together, working on problems and tasks—and that this sense of working together can inspire motivation.”
We have a slightly different take on the whole subject: when we work around other people, we spend most of our time actually working instead of screwing around less savoury parts of the internet. Either way, that’s a good enough reason to throw your laptop in a snazzy messenger bag and meet up with some colleagues at a coffee shop.