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How the person sitting next to you affect your performance?

A research which analysed data of over 2,000 employees of a technology firm with locations across US and Europe states that sitting with someone who is productive will improve your productivity too. 

The effect of your neighbour can be positive or negative.  The researchers also found out that approximately 10 per cent of a worker’s performance spills onto their neighbours. So, when you replace an average performer with one who is twice as productive then it will increase the productivity of their neighbor by 10 per cent, on an average. 

The research categorised workers into three types, Productive workers, Quality workers and Generalists.

Their sample comprised of 25 per cent each of productive and quality workers and the remaining 50 per cent were generalists. 

They found out that making two productive workers sit together did not impact productivity so much nor did placing quality workers together increase their work quality. In other words, spillover is minimal if it occurs in an area of strength of a worker.

Then comes the problem of which two employees should be made to sit together. 

Matching quality and productive workers and then generalists separately generates up to 15 per cent of increased organizational performance. Creating pairs of people with opposite strengths is bound to work because it will help them work on their weaknesses. 

The researchers also found that the spillover effects were immediate, but vanished within two months. The researchers say that the diminishing effects were a result of a combination of ‘inspiration’ and ‘peer pressure’ of sitting next to a high-performing colleague.

Toxic employees were those whose services were terminated because of gross misconduct of behaviour or their toxicity. Both productive and quality workers were seen susceptible to being negatively affected by a toxic employee’s behaviour.

Though the seating arrangement definitely affect the employee performance, it will vary depending on the various factors including office design and set-up.