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How Slack Time Can Help (and Hinder) Cooperation

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How Slack Time Can Help (and Hinder) Cooperation

Read on to get a DZone MVB's take on the importance of downtime in the office, and how it can help get the more mundane tasks completed.

· Agile Zone ·
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Slack time is crucial for innovation for a number of reasons.  For instance, I wrote a few years ago about an interesting study highlighting the importance of slack time for getting the crucial work required for innovation done.

The study found that when entrepreneurs have a bit of ‘slack time' in their schedule, they predominantly use that to do the less exciting tasks that are nonetheless crucial to the success of their venture.

“Slack time does something more than what we thought,” the authors say. “You need a creative idea for sure, but you also need to tell people about it and you need to put some effort into raising money. Slack time may give you the opportunity to do those mundane, execution-oriented tasks.”

Time to Cooperate

A recent study from the University of Waterloo examined how time can influence our willingness and ability to collaborate. Across three experiments, the researchers explored the way people with a varying capacity for reasoning performed in cooperative tasks. The experiments exerted a range of time pressures on participants, including delays to projects and rushed deadlines.

The study found that slack tim is crucial for cooperating on a task, but this very much depends on the kind of people involved. For instance, if an individual is a big picture kind of person, then giving them time to think about cooperating makes them more collaborative. If an individual is more inward thinking, however, the same slack time makes them less cooperative.

“What this study tells us is that the effect of thinking time on cooperation depends on the type of deliberation people use,” the authors say. “In practical terms, people trying to get groups to cooperate, such as employers or in school settings, may really need to understand people’s deliberation styles before deciding how much time to give them for a given task.”

Time pressure, something we all have to encounter in one form or another at work, adds a further aspect to consider as we strive to build more collaborative workplaces.

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Topics:
agile ,project culture ,working environment

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