So much collaboration used to happen around “water cooler conversations.” These may have been informal lunches, chats in the halls, and even chats next to the water cooler in the lunch room. However, as the workforce increasingly works from home and scheduled conference calls limit the possibilities of impromptu meetings, the opportunities to collaborate are also diminishing. In this workforce 2.0 world, we need to find a web 2.0 replacement for collaboration.
While it was never in anyone’s job to ensure that these informal conversations were taking place, it was always in the back of management’s head that some of the best ideas were coming from people getting together informally. This would preclude any formal meeting time, e-mail conversations, and even spontaneous calls for help over the phone lines. These conversations were always unstructured and held between people who were engaged with their work and trying to solve complex problems in better ways. Like most engaged people, these problems stayed in our minds and when we talked to our peers when we met, the problems unavoidably reappeared as a topic of interest to both or more of us.
Today, many of our organizations have been slow to adopt technologies that allow us to have these conversations even as we work from home or outside of the office. We’ve implemented knowledgebase, but these don’t facilitate conversations. Discussion boards and blogs have been around the internet for years, but are still being debated in the workplace. As we go global, we need better ways for our employees to informally talk to each other, not only to collaborate, but also to retain a sense of community.