In support of workplace chatter
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As the designers of collaborative work environments, architects and engineers understand how open, transparent spaces can cultivate the casual interaction and knowledge sharing that sparks innovation.
Now a new study reveals another potential benefit of open workplaces: social interaction that supports happier employees.
Published by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics and Political Science, the research suggests that casual interaction with colleagues is what makes individuals happiest at work.
Researchers Alex Bryson and George MacKerron surveyed more than 10,000 workers, mostly in the United Kingdom, using a smartphone application called Mappiness, which captures respondents’ feelings in real time.
In general, respondents reported being unhappy and stressed while on the job. The only activity they ranked as more unpleasant than working, in fact, was being sick in bed. When offered dozens of options that ranged from going to a concert to paying bills, workers preferred cleaning the house or waiting in line to being on the job.
“The largest positive net effect of combining work and another activity on happiness relates to ‘Talking, chatting, socializing,’” the study reports. “There are clearly positive psychological benefits of being able to socialize while working. It is the only activity that, in combination with working, results in happiness levels that are similar to those experienced when not working.”
Respondents said the company of friends made work far more bearable. ”A work episode can be nudged into a positive area of happiness purely because you’re with friends,” researcher Bryson said.
Although the study uncovered an overall sentiment of job dissatisfaction, it reinforces the significance of the workplace for supporting productivity and fulfillment. Which is good news for architects and engineers, two professions that directly shape the spaces where people work.