Talking the walk

Want to boost your team’s productivity? Let them gossip.
That’s the conclusion to draw from the work of MIT prof Sandy Pentland, who is into “reality mining”, which is a step up from data mining to uncover human behavioural trends, he says.
Last year he tagged 80 call centre workers at a Bank of America site and measured who talked to whom and how often. According to Forbes magazine, those who talked to more co-workers were getting through calls faster, felt less stressed and had the same approval ratings as their peers.
So rather than stagger work breaks, the bank allowed workers to take breaks together. Result? Productivity boosts worth $15m a year.
With winter on the way, Downtime is now lobbying his boss for a decent office espresso machine to encourage more water cooler moments. As this story shows, we’re worth it.