It's Not Just Where You Sit

Back in Middle School, when assigned seating became a thing, eye rolls were the overwhelming response. In the workplace? It depends on who you ask. While the Internet had some serious eye rolls at Square when they posted a job for a “capacity coordinator” (a full-time seating coordinator with “equal parts project manager, data analyst, and relationship builder”), popular tech voices, The Hustle and Quartz were quick to point out that they may have something there. Arranging where employees sit has traditionally not been a priority. When it comes to worker performance, though? Now we’re listening.

Harvard Business Review pointed out, “To increase worker performance, employers often invest in a number of things, from rewards and incentives to education and training. These traditional approaches develop employees’ skills and enrich their work experience. But we discovered a surprisingly simple way to increase productivity, one that was low-cost and had immediate impact: better office seating arrangements.”

Cornerstone OnDemand took two years of extensive data from 2,000 employees at a tech company. With several office locations in the U.S. and Europe, they wanted to see if who an employee sits next to affects performance.

Spoiler alert: It does. The study found, “approximately 10% of a worker’s performance spills over to her neighbors. When productive workers were seated next to quality workers we found a 13% gain in productivity (speed of work) and a 17% gain in effectiveness (fewer unresolved tasks) in that group.”

In simplified terms, placing workers with complementary skill sets together increases both workers’ performances. On the other hand, if toxic employees (employees who ended up being terminated for reasons of their own doing) sat next to each other, it increased the probability that one of them would be terminated by 27%. The crazy thing? These effects took place almost immediately.

Sold on the magic of the seating chart?  We are, too, if the employees cultural preferences indicate it won’t be a demotivator. Afterall, how do you know if workers have a complementary skillset? It starts with knowledge. And not just the knowledge of individual skills, strengths and cultural preferences, but more importantly identifying the complimentary skillsets, personalities and behaviors that you want to reinforce.

That is where Cloverleaf comes in. We provide an all in one tool to give you the insights you need in an easy to use visual format for putting the right workers together for improved performance and job satisfaction. Sign up for free and take a look around at

For more blog posts like this, check out People Over Process and Treat People like Money