Tag Archives: Efficiency

Have more sex and leave stress at the office to improve your work life

A new paper from the Oregon State University found that an active and healthy sex life can boost employees’ job satisfaction and productivity, evidencing the need for a good work-life balance, the authors report.

Image credits Michal Jarmoluk.

Getting busy between the sheets could be just the thing to make you enjoy your job more, says Keith Leavitt, associate professor in OSU’s College of Business. He and his team looked at the relationship between the work and sex habits of married employees and found that those who got some love at home unknowingly received a boost in workplace the next day — when they were more likely to immerse themselves in the tasks at hand and drew more enjoyment in their work.

“We make jokes about people having a ‘spring in their step,’ but it turns out this is actually a real thing and we should pay attention to it,” said Leavitt, an expert in organizational behavior and management and first author of the paper.

“Maintaining a healthy relationship that includes a healthy sex life will help employees stay happy and engaged in their work, which benefits the employees and the organizations they work for.”

Starting off on the right foot

Intercourse triggers the release of neurotransmitter dopamine, which is associated with the brain’s reward pathway, as well as neuropeptide ocytocine, which promotes social bonding and feelings of attachment. It’s a winner combo, which makes sex a natural and pretty fail-proof way of improving your mood. And best of all, the effects of these chemicals can extend well into the next day, the team explains.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers monitored with 159 married employees over a period of two weeks, asking them to complete two short surveys every day. They found that people who had sex reported more positive moods overall the next day — and an improved emotional state in the morning correlated strongly to more self-reported work engagement and job satisfaction throughout the workday.

The effect typically lasted for at least 24 hours, was equally powerful in both men and women, and was significant even after the team corrected for general satisfaction with the relationship and sleep quality — both very powerful ingredients of overall mood.

Image credits Sasin Tipchai.

Leavitt and his team also showed that bringing your work stress to home from work has a negative effect on your romantic endeavors. Employees that failed to disconnect work from their personal life were more likely to sacrifice sex, causing their engagement in work to decline over time. In a society where virtually everyone has a smartphone and after-hours responses to work emails are often expected, these findings underscore the importance of leaving work at the office, Leavitt said.

With this in mind, it may be time to rethink how our work and personal lives fit together, Leavitt says.

“This is a reminder that sex has social, emotional and physiological benefits, and it’s important to make it a priority,” he added. “Making a more intentional effort to maintain a healthy sex life should be considered an issue of human sustainability, and as a result, a potential career advantage.”

“Technology offers a temptation to stay plugged in, but it’s probably better to unplug if you can. And employers should encourage their employees to completely disengage from work after hours.”

Still, I’d give it some time before putting it down on my CV. Let the findings penetrate the job market a bit more, as it were.

“Just make time for it,” he concludes.

Well, it wouldn’t be right to argue with science, would it? Guess we just have to. For productivity’s sake.

The full paper “From the Bedroom to the Office: Workplace Spillover Effects of Sexual Activity at Home” has been published in the Journal of Management.

 

 

Most ants don’t do much, and that makes the colony more efficient

Ant colonies increase their efficiency by letting workers take time off. New research shows that as the hive becomes more numerous, as many as 80% of workers could be doing nothing at a time.

Image credits Unsplash / Pexels.

We need a nice work-rest balance — although exactly what this ratio is varies wildly from person to person. Up to now, we’ve thought that we get the benefit of rest because we’re smart, while simpler beings such as ants slave away and then they die. We’ve got that one wrong, researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology say.

Ant colonies, they showed, can only function because a certain percentage of workers rest at any time.

“It has been a long-standing question in the field as to why large colonies of ants use less per-capita energy than small colonies,” says Dr. Chen Hou, assistant professor of biological sciences at Missouri S&T and lead researcher of the paper. “In this work, we found that this is because in large colonies, there are relatively more ‘lazy workers,’ who don’t move around, and therefore don’t consume energy.”

“We found that the portion of inactive members of a group increases in a regular pattern with the group size,” Hou says.

The team put together specialized computer-imaging software to look at an ant colony and track the motion trajectories of each individual. Previously, similar research only followed the ants for a few minutes. But the team’s algorithm allowed them to follow the movement of ants over large periods of time with better accuracy than anyone before them.

This way, they found that most of the colony ‘sleeps’ to conserve energy. On average, around 60% of workers in a 30-ant group were not moving about. This ratio jumped up to 80% for a 300-strong group of ants.

Rest harder, comrade

So what’s with the vacay? Well, they do it for the common good.

The colony becomes more efficient in the long term by keeping some of its workers on stand-by. While an all-hands-on-deck approach would maximize the speed of resource acquisition, it also requires huge energy expenditure (feeding the ants) and increases foraging time (as nearby resources are over-exploited and workers need to walk to more distant sources). The team explains that off-duty ants help conserve food, energy, and other resources — while the colony gains resources at a slower rate, forage time is reduced and energy expenditure is hugely reduced.

“The simultaneous energetic measurements showed that the per capita energy consumption in the 300-ant group is only 50 percent of that in the 30-ant group,” Hou says.

“We found that walking ants consume five times more energy than resting ants,” he added. “This means that energy wise, one walking ant is equivalent to five resting ants. Thus, if a group has 20 percent active members, this group would consume 180 percent more energy than a similar sized group with all inactive members.”

So the ants try to hit a balance between the need for new resources, and the need to conserve those already harvested. The ‘lazy’ ants are still an asset to the colony. Ants rest by rotation, so there’s always a pool of fresh workers to replace the ones on duty. They can also be called upon in an emergency, kind of like a reserve army or repair team.

“We postulate that ant colonies balance these two optimization rules [income and expenditure] by the coordination of the forager’s interaction.”

“It is intuitive that colonies have inactive members […] But it is unclear why the proportion of the inactive members is not a constant — why larger colonies have relatively more ‘lazy’ workers,” Hou concludes.

Observing how ants maximize efficiency by balancing some work with a lot of rest could help make our society more productive and sustainable.

Fingers crossed on that one.

The full paper “Heterogeneous activity causes a nonlinear increase in the group energy use of ant workers isolated from queen and brood,” has been published in the journal Insect Science.