Cross my way
By Franz Gurtner, 30.08.2018
Still regarded to a great degree as inappropriate not many years ago, informal communication today has taken on key significance in the everyday workflow. For a long time now, the office has been far more than a purely functional workplace. It is a place of communication, of the exchange of knowledge, of experience, of ideas and, as said, of social contact.
This networking idea is actually the main reason why employees still (have to) come to the office – many people can “just” work somewhere else, thanks to mobile information and communication technology. Modern businesses today specifically promote encounters as a purposeful tool. The spontaneous exchange of ideas doesn’t only have a positive effect on work flow, but also improves social contacts and encourages motivation. These encounters take place more and more frequently in so-called crossways and not only in traditional conference rooms.
Crossways are places where spontaneous communication can be initiated and encouraged through targeted planning. The most suitable zones are places within a company that are not often used and can be adapted as an in-house meeting point by choosing the appropriate furnishings. These locations might be connecting corridors and other crossways in foyers, central areas or atriums. The scope for their design is enormous; barstools or smaller seating groups foster interim discussions. Standing-height tables can be supplied with electricity for the use of notebooks and other mobile electronic devices, which makes them also convenient for external coworkers without a fixed office workstation.
Crossways are perfect for stand-up discussions. Short meetings lasting 10 and 20 minutes and held standing up regenerate the body ergonomically through movement and are a welcome change after sitting for long periods. These breaks from constant sitting thus contribute significantly to health at the workplace. The brevity of the discussions can also enhance efficiency for the company, as demonstrated by an empirical study carried out by the University of Missouri, which came to the conclusion that stand-up discussion groups take 34 % less time to make decisions than sit-down ones – at the same quality level. For large companies, this could in fact mean several thousand hours of time saved per annum.
The benefits that a lively and informal exchange contribute to a company cannot be estimated highly enough. Powers of innovation and creativity benefit where employees are given lots of excellent opportunities for spontaneous encounters and talks. In this way, well-planned crossways and meeting points promise more success than many a complicated and expensive team-building strategy.