Do you see the light? The Hawthorne effect is something most first-year university psychology and business students learn about.
The Hawthorne effect describes a temporary change to behavior or performance in response to a change in the environmental conditions, with the response being typically an improvement. Some of the early studies involved changing the lighting conditions within a factory.
Although illumination research of workplace lighting formed the basis of the Hawthorne effect, other changes such as maintaining clean work stations, clearing floors of obstacles, and even relocating workstations resulted in increased productivity for short periods of time. Thus the term is used to identify any type of short-lived increase in productivity. In short, people will be more productive when appreciated or when watched.
The lengthy Wikipedia article goes into the specific research and concerns with research methodology and conclusions from the research.
I am not here to critique the research, I am here to encourage each of us to think of the impact on productivity of people we work with when we appreciate them and pay attention to what they are doing. Attentive and communicated mindfulness of how others are working may have a positive impact on their engagement.
Go ahead, turn the light on in your workplace and strive towards more enlightened engagement as you pay attention and connect with others.
Photo Credit: Flaming lightbulb by http://flickr.com/photos/repoort/320223818/