The New Science of Teambuilding

(hint: it’s all about that face time)

At MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory, researchers are beginning to uncover the mysterious factors that set high-performing teams apart. The good news is that these dynamics are observable, quantifiable, and measurable. And, what’s more, teams can learn them.

Here are the factors that the researchers identified as characteristics of those teams with the energy, creativity, and shared commitment to far surpass other teams.

The study looked at a diverse set of industries, including innovation teams, post-op wards in hospitals, customer-facing teams in banks, backroom operations teams, and call center teams, among others.

Team members were given electronic badges that collected data on their individual communication behavior, including tone of voice, body language, whom they talked to and how much, and more.
They found that the type of communication a given team engaged in had a huge impact on that team’s productivity.


Break Time for Social Time

When the researchers advised calling center managers to revise their team’s break schedule so that everyone on a team took a break at the same time, average handle time (a key call center performance metric) fell by more than 20% among lower-performing teams and decreased by 8% overall at the call center.

In addition, the study found that successful teams shared the following core communication traits:

  • Top team members talk as much as they listen.
  • Members face one another and engage in energetic conversations and gestures.
  • Members connect directly with one another not just with the team leader.
  • Members carry on back-channel or side conversations within the team.
  • Members take breaks to go exploring and refresh.
  • And the research uncovered another surprising fact: individual talent matters much less to the success of a team than does how the team communicates with each other.


The Importance of Social Time

One key finding of the study is that high-performing teams have a high number of face-to-face exchanges among team members. Social time can often be linked to more than 50% of team productivity increases.

As it turns out, Strayboots team building programs are the perfect way to reap the productivity benefits of team bonding. Our programs will get your team out of the office and interacting with each other face to face, forming creatively vibrant friendships that will increase engagement and success once you return to the office.



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