While conducting a research on the different types of management around the world, we came across some really interesting facts about what motivates people at the workplace. We’ll present four of them here, in italic, along with our insightful reflections:
1. A task looks lighter when help is promised
People who were asked to guess the weight of a box of potatoes gave an estimate that was 10% less if they were told they’d get help lifting it, according to a team led by Adam Doerrfeld of Rutgers University. When participants were told they had to lift the box solo, they correctly guessed it weighed 10.5 lbs on average. When they were informed that another person would help them, they guessed 9.4 lbs. Our perceptions are shaped not only by what we can do by ourselves but by what we believe we can do with others’ help, the researchers say.
A very interesting finding that clearly encourages team work. But to be effective every time, the technique has to be used carefully: once you promised help, you should be able to give it if needed. Otherwise… have you heard about the boy who cried wolf?
2. Commuters are more productive on creative tasks, but less on dull ones
A telecommuting experiment involving university students shows that working remotely reduces productivity by 6% to 10% if the task involves typing randomly generated characters but boosts productivity 11% to 20% for the job of imagining unusual uses for a tin can, says E. Glenn Dutcher of the University of Innsbruck in Austria. So if a task is tedious, an employer should make sure it’s done in the office, but when it comes to creative work, a manager might do best to allow employees to work remotely, Dutcher says.
Remote working is becoming a trend worldwide, and it’s not a surprise that most companies that adopt it successfully are from the high-tech industry. They usually employ highly creative people to help them innovate and provide the best solutions to their clients. And yeah, we are a pretty damn cool IT company. And we have super creative people (who actually want to come to the office because they feel like home here… or close enough, you know what I mean). In any case, they don’t want to leave home in the afternoon, I’m not sure why. Pizza.
3. A glimpse of green makes people more creative
Research participants who got a two-second glimpse of a green rectangle completed a subsequent task of imagining various ways to use a tin can with about 20% more creativity than those who have seen a white rectangle, says a team lead by Stephanie Lichtenfeld of the University of Munich in Germany. It’s unclear why green, as opposed to red, blue or gray, would stimulate creativity, though the researchers point out that green has strong association with growth in many cultures.
Again about the tin can… OK, we assure you we’re NOT in the business of finding new ways to reuse tin cans. But we are in fact a green company, in the sense that we strongly encourage biking to work and, of course, reusing tin cans or whatever reusable packaging you may think of. And by the way, the walls in some of our offices are painted in a greenish hue, and if that’s not enough for the fussiest of our colleagues, they can always take a glance at the greenery (mostly weeds and messy shrubs) outside the window. But I digress…
4. It’s not work that keeps people from interacting
Would people interact more if they didn’t have to work so many hours? Apparently not, suggested Henry Saffer of the US National Bureau of Economic Research and Karine Lamiraud of ESSEC Business School in France. After France reduced workweek from 39 to 35 hours in 1998, workers spent more time reading, listening to music, exercising, being with their children, cleaning, shopping, washing, cooking and relaxing – but didn’t spend time on additional social interaction, the researchers found.
Well, that doesn’t come so much as a surprise if you think of how much you get to interact socially at work during the neverending meetings and the unexpected, yet constant interruptions from your colleagues. One might even wonder when you get to get things done!… But on a more serious note, the ideal job should be part of your life, and the social interaction you get at work should be as enjoyable and meaningful as the one you get at home or with your childhood friends.
P.S. Since we’re talking about the French here, by “relaxing” they must understand drinking wine, right?