Regardless whether you’re a solopreneur or an executive who oversees hundreds of people, who you interact with professionally has a powerful impact on your productivity. As social beings who instinctively observe those around us, our behaviors, ideas, and goals are subconsciously influenced by other people.
Thus - no matter how original and independent you are - on some level, you inevitably conform to your social environment. But, if you’re surrounded by kind, ambitious people and you embrace those relationships it gives you a huge advantage.
Here are four ways that your coworkers can boost your productivity and how to leverage them:
1) Work Friends Boost Your Productivity
There’s a false - and damaging - archetype of the highly productive professional who diligently works long hours even if it means sacrificing their relationships.
Don’t limit spending time with friends to evenings and weekends. Studies show that people who have genuine friendships with their colleagues perform better than those who have strictly professional relationships.
Researchers attribute this to a couple of reasons:
- People are more likely to seek advice from coworkers they are friendly with. More information means people generate faster, higher-quality solutions to problems.
- Friends make work more enjoyable and increase job commitment.
- Relationships increase people’s access to knowledge in organizations through the abundance of informal work conversations.
Having work friends also boosts your happiness and overall performance. A study of over 700 participants found that people are on average 12% more productive when they’re happy as opposed to neutral. Physiologically, happiness improves your brain’s cognitive functioning, endurance, and creativity.
So, enjoy your time with your coworkers; it’s great for your productivity.
2) Earn a 95% Chance of Completing Your Reachable Goals
Research has found that people who have an accountability partner are 95% likely to achieve their reachable goals. It’s easy to make excuses for ourselves, push back deadlines, and lose sight of the objectives we set for ourselves. However, when we share our goals with someone else, we have two options:
- Reach our goal
- Disappoint our partner
- Choose someone whose opinion you care strongly about and who won’t tolerate excuses. Your partner must care enough to give you brutally honest feedback when you fall off track and support you through the difficult times.
- Set up a regular cadence to review progress. With everyone’s busy schedules, it can be challenging to check in with your partner as ideas and questions arise. Instead, set up a recurring meeting on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. In addition to being easier to schedule, having recurring check-ins forces you to make consistent progress.
- Don’t forget to celebrate. Accomplishing a goal is a feat worthy of rewards and recognition. When you acknowledge this, your brain releases endorphins (happy chemicals) which psychologically reinforces your desire to pursue more goals. Plus, celebrating with your accountability partner is a fun way to thank them for their support and strengthen your relationship.
If you don’t have an accountability partner already, ask a close colleague, friend or family member to become one, so you can start reaching every goal. Offer to make the relationship mutual so you can help them achieve their goals too.
3) Bustling Social Environments Boosts Motivation
A common argument against working with people is that many projects can be completed faster working independently. That’s true; however, a more effective option is to work independently together. Social psychologists have observed what’s known as “social facilitation ” where people are more productive when surrounded by others who are working hard.
Humans are highly sensitive to social norms. So, when we see everyone behaving a particular way, we feel pressured to do the same. Though conformity is typically frowned upon, it’s a powerful driver to help you stay on track.
Social facilitation naturally occurs in most office environments but, its strength depends on your team’s social norms. If everyone is laser-focused on their goals and limits their socializing to lunch and brief breaks, you’ll experience the full benefits of being surrounded by industrious people.
However, if your team is frequently distracted, works slowly and chats about non-job-related topics, you’re likely to fall into the same habits. If this is the case, see if you can partially work from a more productive location.
4) Brainstorm for Cohesiveness and Rationality
Brainstorming is well-regarded as a key benefit of working with others. What most people don’t realize however is that its effectiveness varies based on its purpose.
A pair of researchers from Northern Illinois University discovered two approaches to brainstorming that have drastically different effects.
- Generate a large number of ideas and build upon each other's contributions. Typically, this is the approach teams use in formal brainstorming sessions. Research shows that in addition to producing lots of ideas, it also strengthens group cohesiveness.
- Assess the quality of random ideas. This is the casual form of brainstorming where you randomly ask for feedback before making decisions. Though getting another person’s opinion can prevent mistakes, if it's poorly timed it can also have an adverse effect. When you interrupt someone when they’re focused on their work, it can be difficult for them to quickly think of the right feedback to give you plus the disruption is annoying.
Instead of telling someone as soon as the idea comes to mind, wait until one of your colleagues has a bit of free time or needs a mental break. During these times, they’ll be more receptive because you’re not interrupting them from essential tasks.
Keep in mind that the people you surround yourself with are one of your greatest assets for boosting your productivity. Use the strategies in this article to get the most leverage out of them.
About the author: Emily leads Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.