In a recent article, Fast Company, along with a noted neurological researcher conducted a very rough experiment in how the brain reacts chemically when the participant is engaged in social media activity. The results were interesting and could have some huge implications for increasing collaboration in the workplace.
The experiment was designed to test levels of oxytocin prior to and after engaging in social media, in this case “tweeting”. Oxytocin (not to be confused with the narcotic pain reducer oxycontin) is largely regarded as the neurochemical that spawns “empathy, generosity, trust, and more.” The experiment showed that after only 10 minutes of tweeting, the test subject’s oxytocin levels increased by an average of 11%. Further experiments in oxytocin levels have resulted in evidence that higher levels of oxytocin increase feelings of trust and collaboration.
While the test is not scientifically verified the idea that when people engage in social media they may become more collaborative might help shake off some critics of social media in the workplace. That is not to say everyone must engage in it, but the restriction of employees use of social media at work might be hurting their desire to be collaborative.
When you consider that collaborative environments have a proven 750-to-1 percentage increase in net-income versus non-collaborative environments (Kotter and Heskett, 1992) restricting people’s collaborative desire is nothing to sneeze at.
To read more about the study head to: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/147/doctor-love.html
Kotter, J and Heskett, J. 1992. Corporate Culture and Performance. Free Press. New York.