Mr. Waber says a worker’s immediate neighbors account for 40% to 60% of every interaction that worker has during the workday, from face-to-face chats to email messages. There is only a 5% to 10% chance employees are interacting with someone two rows away, according to his data, which is culled from companies in the retail, pharmaceutical and finance industries, among others.
Want to befriend someone on another floor? Forget it. “You basically only talk to [those] people if you have meetings,” Mr. Waber says.
Some companies, especially tech companies, like to mix up the seating arrangements of their employees every few months to shake things up and have everyone collaborate with each other more. This was not so successful at a startup I used to work for, which liked to move me away from my editorial team and seat me next to, say, a programmer who was too busy building systems to talk to me. I had to get up a bunch of times a day to have some face time with my team (which I actually didn’t mind so much—it’s good to have an excuse to get up and stretch). How are seating arrangements decided where you work?
Photo: Peter Van De Linde