Want a workplace team that’s at its creative best, able to think freely and abstractly about whatever they’re working on? Or perhaps there are times you need a group to work in concrete fashion, focusing on details and specifics?
Then you might want to consider the ceiling height of the workspace before you book that conference room.
University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management researchers report that ceiling height can influence consumer responses. In The Influence of Ceiling Height: The Effect of Priming on the Type of Processing People Use, described in the Innovations Report and to be published in the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers report,
“When a person is in a space with a 10-foot ceiling, they will tend to think more freely, more abstractly…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 authors suggest that ceiling height could have positive or negative impact, depending on the task at hand, with higher ceilings stimulating free-form thinking and lower ones detail-specific thoughts.
While the research was conducted with retail consumers in mind, and so I want to be careful about extrapolating to other arenas, it doesn’t seem a far leap to imagine that teams of people doing other kinds of problem solving and decision making might be similarly influenced.
Tip o’ the hat to Hackszine for reporting on the research.