Does your company give employees the flexibility to work virtually from home? It’s a growing trend, which many employees like, but what is the impact on productivity? A number of studies have produced some unexpected results. In the next few weeks, I will be looking at the pros and cons on both sides of the issue.

One interesting scientific study showed that employees who work side by side are more motivated and work harder than when each works alone. Turns out, working side by side may actually be hard-wired into our brains because, as humans, we are tribal in nature.

I was really surprised by one particular observation in the study: when you work beside a colleague, who has a difficult task, you will ramp up your work effort. Even if you have no idea what the colleague next to you is working on. It doesn’t matter. When you sense your colleague is expending a lot of mental energy on a project, you will mirror that and begin working harder on your own project.

This would indicate that it may be in the company’s best interest to boost productivity by having employees work side by side… but is that always true? In my next article, I’ll take a look at the advantages of working virtually.

In the meantime, what has been your experience?