Over the last four years the topic of productive generosity has been of interest to both organizational psychologists as well as interior architects and designers-the idea that most employees can be categorized into one of three baskets that describe their willingness to help their coworkers. In his November 2016 TED talk Adam Grant, organizational psychologist and professor at the Wharton school of business, outlined a few key takeaways that might help organizations to foster productive generosity. The merits of the open office continue to be debated, but an open environment lends itself to generosity by its very nature. Without office walls and doors, the marketplace of generosity is very much on display. Sections of the office designated as a quiet area or small private touch down offices can be options for employees who need to focus and not field requests for help. If the definition of productive generosity is when a workplace fosters the ability of employees to help one another, unproductive generosity might be when employees are not enabled to protect their own time. Signaling to others that you’re able or willing to help them at a given moment isn’t as simple as posting an updated status, and sometimes workplaces make it difficult to signal to others when you’re willing to help – but maybe not at that very moment.
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