Are mixed-sex workplaces making us more competitive?

Are mixed-sex workplaces making us more competitive?

Single-sex workplaces used to be commonplace in Britain, with women and men usually earmarked for very different jobs.

Fortunately, that is something that now seems to be a thing of the past and most offices and factories tend to have a healthy balance of men and women.

But it turns out that it might be having an effect other than ensuring greater diversity – it could be making us more competitive.

A survey carried out at a US-based professional services company between 1995 and 2002 measured cooperation, trust and work enjoyment, then cross-checked the figures with company revenue.

It was found that productivity could go up by as much as 41 per cent when offices had both men and women working there, suggesting we may be trying to outdo our professional rivals when they are of the opposite sex.

Unfortunately, it was also discovered that single-sex offices tended to create happier workers, with women saying they liked not having a "testosterone-fulled atmosphere" and men reporting being glad not to have to "walk on eggshells".

Co-author of the study Dr Sara Ellison said: "We all think that we want to be in this pluralistic society in a diverse setting. But when push comes to shove, when our co-workers don't think like we do, that can cause some friction."

It comes after a survey by FlexJobs found that 54 per cent of people choose to telecommute when they have important job-related assignments to do. When asked why, 61 per cent said it was to get away from the office politics and 59 per cent reported not wanting to be interrupted by colleagues.

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