Hi there,

From Google’s playground-like campuses to endless op-eds on optimizing your WFH space, office design is all the rage. And for two good reasons: First, we spend 87% of our time indoors, often at our home or workplace. And second, the idea of the ‘office’ has undergone a dramatic shift in the past few years.

In this newsletter, we’re jumping on the office design bandwagon – but don’t worry. We won’t extoll the virtues of warm lighting, plants, sitting by a window, or taking a micro-break to stare at greenery (all of which are proven to jumpstart happiness and productivity). In true TDL fashion, we want to talk about people.

Just like in love and team-building, the secret to successful office design is strong communication. Even if you can’t afford a $4000 ergonomic desk chair, checking in with yourself and those around you will take your work space up a notch. 

Whether you work in-person 50 hours a week or your entire workplace is remote, there are a few fundamentals of communication that can improve your office experience – whatever ‘office’ means to you.  

Until next time,
Sarah and the harmoniously hybrid team @ TDL

📧 Wanna keep talking about overpriced office chairs? Sign up for the TDL newsletter here.

Today’s topics 👀

🏢 Communicating at the Office

🎶 A Soundtrack for the Waiting Game

🏠 CFH (Communicating From Home)
🏢 Communicating at the Office
  • Value growth.Open office floor plans result in a creativity tax: employees are less likely to take risks or experiment in front of others, in fear of being labelled unproductive. Managers can reverse this trend through social norms – when workplaces value the process just as much as standard KPIs, employees are free to get creative.

  • Talk to your colleagues. The leading benefit of office work is face-to-face time. The MIT Media Lab’s Human Dynamics group electronically tracked employee interaction and found that face-to-face interactions outside of formal meetings were the best predictor of productivity. 

  • Amplify communal spaces. Employees who sit at lunch tables of 10-12 build stronger social networks than those who eat in small groups or solo. One study found that the switch to large lunch tables made employees 36% more likely to interact with each other, boosting productivity and collaboration. 

  • Get evidence-based. Every workplace is unique, with different needs and preferences. To ensure changes are both useful and desirable, start with data collection – methods can range from spontaneous conversation to anonymized surveys. 
FIELD NOTES: A Soundtrack for the Waiting Game

Music can make us happier and more focused at work. But it depends on the song: some sounds make us happy, others make us more trusting. Certain music can even make time feel like it’s flying by!

These were just a few of our findings when we worked with the soundscape giant Made Music Studio. MMS wanted to explore how music could impact even the most tedious experience: waiting. To learn about the innovative world of sonic nudges, check out our case study here

Individuals sitting in a waiting room
🏠 CFH (Communicating From Home)
  • Reconsider shared chores. If your household consists of multiple adults working from home, critically evaluate the division of household chores. Men tend to find it easier to work from home, as women tend to take on more childcare and household chores. In the WFH era, this unequal work-life balance has doubled the ‘exhaustion gap’ for working women. 

  • Make a friend. Since the WFH-era began, the relationship between having a work friend and overall satisfaction has become even stronger. We’re more likely to recommend our workplace to others and less likely to switch jobs if we have a friend around. Give it a try: even a short conversation increases happiness for both the initiator and the receiver.

  • Get better at video meetings. Gameplan your meeting culture with colleagues. Read a meeting expert’s tips for online meetings or combat fatigue à la CitiGroup Bank with Zoom-Free Fridays

  • Change your scenery. Check in with yourself – do your days feel monotonous? A study that tracked individuals’ moods and locations for 3 months found that those who experienced a greater variety of day-to-day locations felt more excited, relaxed, attentive, and happy. Break up your routine by working from a cafe or taking a midday walk.
The chart shows that employees who have a friend at work are more than twice as likely to strongly recommend their organization as a great place to work. The data comes from a 2022 Gallup survey.
Employees who have a friend at work are more than twice as likely to strongly recommend their organization as a great place to work.
The Status Quo Bias
Your chair’s squeaky, but you don’t bother oiling it down. Your colleagues don’t greet you in the morning, so you don’t either. It’s easy to stick with the status quo, even when it holds us back. Instead, try to reframe mediocre default options as a loss, instead of a default. Read more about the status quo bias on our website. 
Opportunities in Behavioral Science
TDL is hiring! We’re hiring for a number of positions, both remote and based in our Montreal office. Some open roles include: 

  • Associate Project Leader
  • Summer Research Fellow

Find out more by visiting our careers portal

Want to have your voice heard? We'd love to hear from you. Reply to this email to share your thoughts, feedback, and questions with the TDL team.

linkedin facebook twitter

The Decision Lab

4030 St Ambroise Street,Suite 413

Montreal, Quebec

H4C 2C7, Canada 

© 2022 The Decision Lab. All Rights Reserved
4030 St Ambroise Street Quebec The Decision Lab Montreal