Where we sit in relation to others has a huge impact on who we chose to collaborate with. Yes, this makes intuitive sense – but some awesome researchers at the University of Michigan were recently able to quantify the size of this impact.

Associate Professor Jason Owen-Smith observed a bunch of other researchers from the same university who were spread across three different buildings. A total of 172 researchers were tracked over a two year period to investigate who they collaborated with on different projects.

It was found that researchers who worked in the same building were 33% more likely to form new collaborations compared to those who worked in different buildings. But if you really want to increase the chance of collaborations – seat people on the same floor – as it was found that scientists and researchers were 57% more likely for form new collaborations when they were located on the same floor.

For your organisation, spend some time thinking about where the most fortuitous and surprising collaborations may spring from. And then consider how you can bring these people or teams together on the same floor to give collaborations the absolute best chance of happening.

Written by Dr. Amantha Imber