Working at home can reduce staff performance, say scientists
TECHNOLOGY makes working from home easier, but according to a new study, staff who are out of sight may not perform as well as those in the office.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, US, wanted to find out whether being watched while undertaking a task altered performance.
Many people believe that being under constant scrutiny damages their creativity, while others live in fear of freezing in front of an audience. But the findings suggest that pressure from others can make people improve.
“You might think having people watch you isn’t going to help, but it might actually make you perform better,” said lead author Vikram Chib, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins and the Kennedy Krieger Institute. “An audience can serve as an extra bit of incentive.”
When people know they are being observed, parts of the brain associated with social awareness and reward invigorate a part of the brain that controls motor skills, improving their performance at skilled tasks.
Dr Chib and colleagues asked 20 participants to play a video game. They performed the task both in front of an audience of two and with no one watching, and had their brain activity monitored. While people were watching, participants were an average of 5 per cent better at the game – with some performing as much as 20 per cent better.
The research was published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.