Whether you know it or not, your workspace changes the way you work.
Your desk, your device, and your room size all change your behaviour and influence your success. Here’s a look at how.
If your desk setup broadens your posture, you’ll be more assertive.
Harvard researchers have found that your posture affects your emotional states. That’s why “power posing” — taking a broad, open-armed dominant stance like you just scored a touchdown — gives you a release of confidence-boosting hormones before you make a speech or enter into a negotiation.
The same postural logic applies to the way you work. If you’re working with a device that makes you hunched over, like an iPad or a laptop, you’ll be less assertive than if you’re working in a more open, broad posture, like with a desktop setup. Another reason to invest in ergonomics, right?
But there’s a dark side to feeling broad and powerful: You’ll be more likely to cheat, too. As MIT professor Andy Yap found in his paper “The Ergonomics of Dishonesty: The Effect of Incidental Posture on Stealing, Cheating, and Traffic Violations,” the feeling of power you get from taking a broad stance can not only make you behave more assertive but also more likely to cheat.
“If you take an expansive pose, it can actually lead to power,” he tells Business Insider. “Postures are incidentally related to power, and one of those behaviours is dishonest behaviour.”
The noisier a room is, the more exhausted and distracted you’ll feel.
While there are many reasons to feel frustrated with open offices, one of the worst is the whir of distracting conversation that runs throughout the day.
Research shows that being around chit-chat makes us worse at our jobs, since it takes a ton of mental effort to switch between helping your colleague and reacquainting yourself with the complexities of what you were working on before. It takes time, too: about 27 minutes per distraction.
The higher the ceiling, the freer your thought.
University of Minnesota researcher Joan Meyers-Levy found that ceiling height affects the way people process information around them.
“When a person is in a space with a 10-foot ceiling, they will tend to think more freely, more abstractly,” she said. “They might process more abstract connections between objects in a room, whereas a person in a room with an 8-foot ceiling will be more likely to focus on specifics.”
This is because, she infers, a higher ceiling triggers the idea of freedom, while a low ceiling triggers a feeling of confinement.
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