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Collaborate With Coworkers More By Sitting Closer To Them

Collaborate With Coworkers More By Sitting Closer To Them
From Lifehacker - August 12, 2017

During a performance review, I once had a supervisor ask why I didnt collaborate more on projects with a coworker that lives in New York (Im in San Francisco). We had Slack, email, and Hangouts at our disposal, but at the end of the day the real answer was simply because he lives across the country. No matter how good your virtual tools are, connecting with people who work outside your office on projects can get complicated fast. Now theres science out there to actually back that theory up.

A recent MIT study found that the closer you are physically located to a person, the more likely you are to collaborate with them. While my first reaction was No kidding! the obvious answer isnt quite as obvious as you might (and I did) think.

While clearly, youre going to be more likely to collaborate with someone that works in the same office, or at least the same city, than someone that lives across the country, where you sit in that office can also come into play.

Researchers looked at 40,358 published papers and 2,350 patents that stemmed from MIT research between the years 2004 and 2014. In it they discovered that how close you sit to a person can have a dramatic effect on whether or not youll collaborate with them. Even a few hundred feet can make a huge difference.

Intuitively, there is a connection between space and collaboration, Claudel observes. That is, you have a better chance of meeting someone, connecting, and working together if you are close by spatially. Even so, he says, It was an exciting result to find that across papers and patents, and specifically for transdisciplinary collaborations. He adds, In many ways, this data really confirms the Allen Curve.

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