How do emotions affect productivity? [New research]

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There’s a long-held expectation that people should keep their emotions out of the workplace. I’m sure you’ve heard it at some point: keep a firm boundary between your personal and professional life.

The problem is, this is not actually possible or even helpful to productivity. Human beings are emotional creatures, and we communicate our emotions constantly – whether we mean to or not. Emotion shows up in our body language, our word choice, tone of voice, and our actions. It’s part of who we are, and, if we are asked to check emotion at the door, are we really bringing our full selves to work?

It’s setting a near-impossible standard to ask someone not to bring their emotions into the workplace. Instead of trying to stamp them out, companies can understand emotion and harness it to increase their productivity.

In our research we did just that. We analyzed hundreds of open source projects in Jira Software, Atlassian’s project tracking software, performing sentiment and productivity analysis upon them to identify what emotions teams were expressing through their projects and how productive they were in delivering these projects.

Understanding team emotions

First, we tackled the subject of emotion. You may already be familiar with the 8 core emotions: anger, fear, disgust, surprise, sadness, trust, anticipation, and joy. How do we see them being expressed in work tasks? Some are more popular than others.

As you can see, the most common emotions people express within their team projects are trust and anticipation, which we believe are positive signals of team productivity. When teams trust each other and are looking forward to the work they are about to do, everyone is highly motivated to do a great job.

Trust and anticipation are the most common emotions that teams express in their Jira projects.

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