In one of the most revealing studies of creativity in the workplace to date, researchers from MIT, Northeastern University, University of Cologne, University of Bamberg, and Aalto University studied several teams working on projects involving computer science, economics, psychology, and other fields; their findings were published in the International Journal of Organisational Design and Engineering in 2012. The subjects wore small badges called sociometers to record interactions within the teams, and the creativity and quality of the teams’ ideas were rated by peers on a scale of one to five. The results show strikingly what a deeply human experience it is to be creative in a group. The more that group members faced each other, the more creative was their output. The more they looked into each other’s eyes, the more creative they were. The more willing they were to confide in one another, the more creative they were.
Facing each other, looking into the eyes, confiding—all those behaviors reflect and build trust. The researchers measured trust within the groups and found that it was crucial to the whole process. Their conclusion: “There is no substitute for face-to-face interaction to build up this trust.”