Multi-Room Management: How To Maximize Productivity By Switching To a Room With a Different Ceiling Height


You've searched and searched for that magic management style that will maximize the productivity of your employees. Now, new research shows that the secret is to move rooms depending on the type of work you do. Why? Because the ceiling height matters, of course.

Meyers-Levy and co-author Rui (Juliet) Zhu, assistant professor of marketing at the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia and a Carlson doctoral alum, found that, depending on the situation, ceiling height will benefit or impair consumer responses. The paper "The Influence of Ceiling Height: The Effect of Priming on the Type of Processing People Use," will be published in the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

"When a person is in a space with a 10-foot ceiling, they will tend to think more freely, more abstractly," said Meyers-Levy. "They might process more abstract connections between objects in a room, whereas a person in a room with an 8-foot ceiling will be more likely to focus on specifics."

The research focuses on consumers, but it seems to me that it should logically carry over to how employees think too. So the question is this – we've all heard that Google executives divide their time 70/20/10, and make sure they stick to it by spending those time segments in different rooms – but do those rooms have different ceiling heights? The 70% of time they focus on existing businesses should be in a room with a low ceiling to encourage specifics. The 10% of time they spend on cutting edge concepts should have a high ceiling to encourage free flowing abstract thought. And now you know the real secret of Google's success.

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  • I’m an information junkie, so stuff like this fascinates me. Along with research on how much time you can save by holding meetings standing up. But most of the organizations I see, read about and work with don’t need to make slight improvements at the margins. Then need to make sure they’re doing the core things that add value and increase long term competitive advantage and profitability. Maybe Google can worry about ceiling heights, but most companies would do better to focus on whether or not they’re delivering value to their customers.

  • Have you ever noticed that accounting offices typically have low ceilings?