The Modern Workplace: Collaborative Environments Can Drive Top Performers Away [Video]


More and more companies choose to create collaborative environments for their employees. This comes with the assumption that this can foster better teamwork and increase productivity.

However, a new study has shown how a company's collaborative culture can actually drive top performers away. The paper by Elizabeth Campbell, Hui Liao, Aichia Chuang, Jing Zhou and Yuntao Dong has been published in the journal "Applied Psychology."

It was noted that top performers, innovative and hard-working employees, often feel miserable and socially isolated in this type of work environment. This is because, rather than viewing them as role models, mediocre employees see them as threats to either their own position or to their own feelings of self-worth.

Inc. reported that mediocre employees choose to socially isolate top performers instead of focusing on themselves and improving their own performance. Moreover, these not-so-stellar employees also spread nasty rumors about the good workers and sabotage or attempt to steal the credit for the latter's work.

The study explained that "cooperative contexts proved socially disadvantageous for high performers." This social isolation makes it even more difficult for introverted employees who work in open-plan offices.

It was previously reported that Steve Jobs is known for having initiated the concept of collaborative offices at Pixar by putting everyone in the same building. Modern businesses are removing cubicles and divided departments and are opting for open offices in order to have better communication and more person-to-person interaction.

However, this type of environment may be mentally draining for introvert employees. This leads them to opt to work from home and become easy targets for workplace gossip and backbiting.

This could pose a big problem for companies as it may result to an exodus of top talent. While teamwork is still very much important, perhaps it is also good to have hierarchical leadership in place to make sure that top performers will not be isolated or denigrated. Private spaces could also prove to be beneficial for those who prefer to work in silence.

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