The Hawthorne effect is about things that change after people become or are aware that they’re observed. The original research was about measuring workers’ productivity in higher and lower levels of light. The research suggested that a change in the environment caused a temporary uplift in productivity. This effect was also measured after introducing clean work stations, clearing floors of obstacles and relocating workstations.

One of the first things that came to mind: I’m using OmniFocus for quite some time, but previously I found that I experienced a short time boost in how many tasks I got done when I switched from one task manager to another. Not sure if that can be completely attributed to this, but it sounds logical. (Just keep in mind that time spend moving your tasks is basically lost time, but if you’re looking for a good reason to switch, you could use this one.)

Secondly: apparently, we (temporarily) thrive under novelty. This suggest we should keep things fresh. We can also use this with our teams to keep motivation and productivity high. Not only do we need to keep searching for improvements, we can also search for changes with minimal impact just to keep the creative juices flowing. This also applies to yourself: if you find yourself stuck, try changing your routines, location, temperature or even lightning.

This Hawthorne effect is an interesting one to keep in mind when you’re thinking about your own productivity, and the productivity of your team. A creative approach could do huge things for whatever you’re trying to accomplish.