Forget about whether you have an open floor plan or offices. Forget about how high your walls are. Don't worry about the corner view or what artwork to display. Instead, pay attention to who you sit near.

New research reported by Harvard Business School has shown that who you sit near can have a positive influence on your performance. The finding is particularly pronounced if there is a skill area you are hoping to improve at work. Sitting near somebody that is good in that area was shown to lead to performance improvements of up to 15%! 

In addition to learning from others, you benefit from peer pressure and wanting to do as well as others. The positive effects of workplaces with diverse backgrounds and ideas has helped drive the enormous popularity of shared office space companies.

The knowledge and skills of those around you will spillover to you. That is, you reap the benefits of exposure to learn from them. But not all of the outcomes are positive. Just as "good" will spillover to you, so will bad. This negative spillover results from toxic workers and will drive your productivity and engagement down.

Next time there is a discussion about office options, focus on who you are working with and don't worry about the rest.

Published on: Dec 5, 2017
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