Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Working Together In "War Rooms" Doubles Teams' Productivity, University Of Michigan Researchers Find

Date:
December 13, 2000
Source:
University Of Michigan
Summary:
Teams of workers that labored together for several months in specially designed "war rooms" were twice as productive as their counterparts working in traditional office arrangements, a study by University of Michigan researchers has found.

PHILADELPHIA---Teams of workers that labored together for several months in specially designed "war rooms" were twice as productive as their counterparts working in traditional office arrangements, a study by University of Michigan researchers has found. Results of the study will be presented Dec. 6 at the Association for Computing Machinery 2000 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work.

Related Articles


Recently, many companies in the software industry have been experimenting with putting teams of workers into "war rooms" to enhance communication and promote intense collaboration, explains Stephanie Teasley, an assistant research scientist in the U-M School of Information's Collaboratory for Research on Electronic Work.

Instead of toiling in separate cubicles, workers sit at wall-less workstations in one big, open room. The room is typically outfitted with central worktables, whiteboards and flip charts to facilitate group discussions. While companies expect benefits from such arrangements, workers sometimes balk at the idea, fearing they'll sacrifice privacy and the quiet they need to concentrate on demanding tasks. The U-M researchers say their study is the first to closely examine the effects of what they call "radical collocation" on both productivity and worker satisfaction.

Teasley collaborated on the project with Mayuram Krishnan and Judith Olson of U-M and Lisa Covi, who was at U-M when the work was done but now is at Rutgers University. The group studied six software development teams at a major automobile company, all of which had little or no experience working in war room settings. The researchers evaluated the workers' productivity using measures commonly used in software development; then they compared the war room teams' scores with productivity data the company had collected on software development teams working in traditionally arranged offices. The researchers also interviewed the workers and had them fill out questionnaires at the beginning and end of the project. In addition, they made detailed observations of two teams---sitting in on meetings and conference calls, watching the teams solve various kinds of problems and photographing them in action.

Teams in the war room environments were more than twice as productive as similar teams at the same company working in traditional office settings. In a follow-up study of 11 more war room teams, productivity nearly doubled again, making the war room teams almost four times as productive as their counterparts in ordinary offices. The setting alone may not account for all of the productivity differences; teams working in the war rooms also used techniques designed to accelerate software development. However, those techniques could only be carried out by radically collocated teams, says Teasley.

The before-and-after questionnaires showed that workers liked working in the war rooms better than they expected to and were not as distracted by nearby colleagues as they thought they would be. In interviews, the workers said they learned to tune out distractions and tune in when something important was happening. Indeed, overhearing one another's conversations and watching one another's activities probably had a lot to do with the productivity surge, the researchers believe. When a worker was stuck on a software-coding problem, others passing by would stop and offer help. And when one team member was explaining something to another, others could overhear and interject clarifications and corrections. The privacy issue was resolved by having a few private cubicles, equipped with telephones and computers, available near the war rooms. Workers used these mainly for making personal phone calls, such as calling a bank to check on a loan or phoning a doctor's office for medical test results.

"Although the teammates were not looking forward to working in close quarters, over time they realized the benefits of having people at hand, for coordination, problem solving and learning," says Teasley. "With the growing push for using technology to allow people to work in virtual teams, this study shows us the value of having seamless access to team members and helps us to envision how technology might best be used to support teams that cannot be radically collocated."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Michigan. "Working Together In "War Rooms" Doubles Teams' Productivity, University Of Michigan Researchers Find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/12/001206144705.htm>.
University Of Michigan. (2000, December 13). Working Together In "War Rooms" Doubles Teams' Productivity, University Of Michigan Researchers Find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/12/001206144705.htm
University Of Michigan. "Working Together In "War Rooms" Doubles Teams' Productivity, University Of Michigan Researchers Find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/12/001206144705.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) — More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

BuzzFeed (Jan. 24, 2015) — Did you back it up? Do you even know how to do that? Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) — A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

RightThisMinute (Jan. 23, 2015) — Not only is Kathy seeing her newborn son for the first time, but this is actually the first time she has ever seen a baby. Kathy and her sister, Yvonne, have been legally blind since childhood, but thanks to an amazing new technology, eSight glasses, which gives those who are legally blind the ability to see, she got the chance to see the birth of her son. It&apos;s an incredible moment and an even better story. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins