Improve collaboration with round tables

Sitting at round tables causes people to feel a need to belong.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

If you want to create a collaborative office setting you can use an open design, but you better make sure the tables are round.

That's because researchers have found that circular seating arrangements lead to people feeling a need to belong, while angular tables cause people to have a need to be unique.

In a new study from the University of British Columbia, researchers asked volunteers sit around round and angular tables and respond to various advertisements. The results?

[T]hose sitting in a circle or oval reacted more favourably towards ads that conveyed a sense of belonging, showing groups of family members or friends.

In contrast, participants seated in rectangular formations identified more with ads portraying go-getting individuals – “maverick” types.

"The geometric shape of a seating arrangement can act as a subtle environmental cue for people, by priming their fundamental need for inclusiveness or individuality," said Juliet Zhu, a professor at the University of British Columbia and co-author of the study, in a statement.

But it's not just the workplace where these findings can be useful. It can also help advertisers make strategic decisions.

"Seating arrangements can potentially influence people in a variety of situations, whether they are at work or at a big family gathering, or in consumer setting such as restaurants, hotel lobbies, airports, or on public transit," Zhu said.

The study, "The Geometry of Persuasion: How Do Seating Layouts Influence Consumers" will be published in the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

Read more: Sauder School of Business

Photo: Flickr/G8 UK Presidency

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