Productivity Through Coffee Breaks: Changing Social Networks by Changing Break Structure

22 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2010  

Benjamin N. Waber

MIT - Media Laboratory

Daniel Olguin Olguin

MIT - Media Laboratory

Taemie Kim

MIT - Media Laboratory

Alex Pentland

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Date Written: January 11, 2010

Abstract

In this paper we present a two-phase study undertaken to experimentally study in a real world setting the effects of social group strength and how to increase the strength of groups in the workplace. In the first phase of our study we measured interactions between workers at the call center of a large bank based in the United States using Sociometric Badges. We confirmed our hypothesis that the strength of an individual’s social group was positively related to productivity (average call handle time) for the employees that we studied. In the second phase of our study we show that by giving employees breaks at the same time we increased the strength of an individual’s social groups, demonstrating that low-cost management decisions can be used to act on these results.

Keywords: social networks, reality mining, kith, productivity

JEL Classification: C8, M12, M54

Suggested Citation

Waber, Benjamin N. and Olguin Olguin, Daniel and Kim, Taemie and Pentland, Alex, Productivity Through Coffee Breaks: Changing Social Networks by Changing Break Structure (January 11, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1586375 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1586375

Benjamin N. Waber (Contact Author)

MIT - Media Laboratory ( email )

20 Ames St.
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States
617-253-4662 (Phone)
617-253-6285 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.media.mit.edu/~bwaber

Daniel Olguin Olguin

MIT - Media Laboratory ( email )

20 Ames St.
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Taemie Kim

MIT - Media Laboratory ( email )

20 Ames St.
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Alex Pentland

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

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