Working alongside a friend makes you less productive, research claims

Working alongside a friend makes you less productive, research claims

Everything in life is better with friends, everything apart from work - if new research is anything to go by.

The unsurprising revelation was made by Dr. Sangyoon Park, assistant professor of economics at the University of Hong Kong. While the answer to this question is pretty obvious, he set out to gather solid evidence that working alongside your friends makes you less productive.

A scene from 21 Jump Street. Credit: Columbia Pictures

Park conducted his research at a seafood production company in Vietnam, focusing on a group of employees who were tasked with filleting fish. He observed them at work, noting who was friends with who, then began to track their productivity.

No prizes for where this is going.

Recounting his research, Park said that they "assigned workers to different workstations… so we have this variation in proximity to your friends."

These workstations were all occupied by four people at a time.

People fist pumping. Credit: Pexels

According to ABC News, the doctor continued: "It's a setting where workers can see how others are working. In certain cases, they have an opportunity for chit-chat, but they can also learn how to do the processing task from the workers."

Park found that people who worked directly beside their friends were six percent less productive than those who didn't, but surprisingly, there was no change in productivity levels when friends were positioned across from each other - presumably because it put them into a position where it was harder to chat.

Two friends at work. Credit: Pexels

Unlike most workplaces where employees receive a set rate, those who worked at the fish company did not receive a set daily rate. Instead, they were paid per kilo of filleted fish, which meant that those who chose to chat with their friends were earning four percent less.

"They're somehow willing to forego money to socialize with their friends at work," Park said. "They perceive working next to their friends as a type of benefit that’s not compensated by financial incentives."

Well, they do say that good friends are worth their weight in gold. Literally, in this case.