Employee Benefit Views

Why bother going to work?

Print
Email
Reprints
Posted January 16, 2013 by By Kelley M. Butler at 12:51PM. Comments (4)

 

That’s the question I’ve been asking myself after reading the results of three separate studies about work: one that concludes being bored at work is a good thing, another that suggests meetings can actually lower a person’s IQ and still another that finds gossiping among work teams is positive.
The first study, conducted by a psychology professor in the U.K., concludes that completing boring tasks at work helps us become better problem-solvers, because our brains use daydreaming time to think creatively. 
In the second study, after administering IQ tests to groups of college students, a researcher from Virginia Tech found that the students’ scores on the tests dropped when they were told how they compared to their peers when they answered the questions—even though a baseline IQ test showed the students were of similar and relatively high intelligence. The researcher connected the results to the workplace, in that if a coworker says or does something in a meeting that makes her seem smarter than you, your brain function can decrease. 
Thirdly, a Ph.D. from the Netherlands suggests that gossiping among coworkers may boost work output, since no one wants to be whispered about as the team slacker and team members therefore will work harder to avoid being known around the water cooler as the weak link.
If being in meetings lowers my brain function, and the only good things being in the office has to offer is being bored and/or talking behind my teammates’ backs … what in the holy heck is the point? Can I just stay home?
I’d like to know what you think. Do you agree that gossip and boredom could make for better work output? What are the net positives that you see from going in to the office? Share your thoughts in the comments. 
 

That’s the question I’ve been asking myself after reading the results of three separate studies about work: one that concludes being bored at work is a good thing, another that suggests meetings can actually lower a person’s IQ and still another that finds gossiping among work teams is positive.

The first study, conducted by a psychology professor in the U.K., concludes that completing boring tasks at work helps us become better problem-solvers, because our brains use daydreaming time to think creatively. 

In the second study, after administering IQ tests to groups of college students, a researcher from Virginia Tech found that the students’ scores on the tests dropped when they were told how they compared to their peers when they answered the questions — even though a baseline IQ test showed the students were of similar and relatively high intelligence. The researcher connected the results to the workplace, in that if a coworker says or does something in a meeting that makes her seem smarter than you, your brain function can decrease. 

Thirdly, a Ph.D. from the Netherlands suggests that gossiping among coworkers may boost work output, since no one wants to be whispered about as the team slacker and team members therefore will work harder to avoid being known around the water cooler as the weak link.

If being in meetings lowers my brain function, and the only good things being in the office has to offer is being bored and/or talking behind my teammates’ backs … what in the holy heck is the point? Can I just stay home?

I’d like to know what you think. Do you agree that gossip and boredom could make for better work output? What are the net positives that you see from going in to the office? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

 

4 Comments

Posted by: Alicia A | January 17, 2013 4:55 PM

-Do you consider brain "idle" time during sleep? I can't tell you how many times I wake up in the morning with the answer to a problem. - I agree with Teri that gossip is a form of bullying and can only end poorly. Workplace professionals shouldn't stoop to grade school antics.

Report this Comment


Posted by: John H | January 17, 2013 2:40 PM

Define "gossiping?" A little banter helps strengthen the relationships between team members. Look at your closest relationships (the good ones) - they include individuals that you feel comfortable taking jabs at without retribution. At the same time, those are the same people whom its easiest to hold accountable. If "gossiping" is a direct 'talk behind the back' process than Teri is right on. Meetings - there are too many unnecessary meetings. Every internal meeting should have an agenda and be wrapped up in 25 minutes or less. Let's go get some things done.

Report this Comment


Posted by: Teri C | January 17, 2013 2:23 PM

Gossiping is good at work? I must disagree. In my twenty plus years in the workforce, I have seen gossip demoralize individuals, resulting in decresed work performance, and increased days off. Any type of work performance issue should be addressed in a professional manner, by the employee's supervisor, not in a "free for all" by teammates spreading half-truths. As far as I am concerned, gossiping is a form of bullying and is not tolerated in my department.

Report this Comment


Posted by: Karen W | January 17, 2013 1:51 PM

In order of the studies - --Yes, your brain will continue to work on problems when it is "idling", but it idles during the shower and the commute. At work, the brain needs to make decisions more than it needs to solve problems. --I take all studies using college students as the test subject with several grains of salt, since, at that age, the brain is not fully developed. --If the only topic of gossip was co-workers' work ethic, this study might tell us something. But we know that gossip covers many topics and is occasionally a team builder but mostly a time waster. When you become independently wealthy, you can stay home from work.

Report this Comment

Add Your Comments...

Already Registered?

If you have already registered to Employee Benefit Views, please use the form below to login. When completed you will immediately be directed to post a comment.

Forgot your password?

Not Registered?

You must be registered to post a comment. Click here to register.

Welcome to Employee Benefit Views!

    Welcome to Employee Benefit Views, brought to you by Employee Benefit News and Employee Benefit Adviser. Throughout the day, take a break from the grind to read news and view posts from EBN staffers and guest bloggers.

    You’ll also find quick links to our other great content like EBN’s "Five Minutes With...", top stories and web events.

    So RSS us, click over a couple times each day and send comments to let us know what you think.


    RSS US!

    Employee Benefit News on Facebook

    Join EBN's LinkedIn Group Join Employee Benefit News LinkedIn Group

    Follow EBNmagazine on Twitter

Links we love

Advertisement