Episode 3 Caméléon :
Unexpected meetings in the workplace
In the era of remote and hybrid work, unplanned meetings are still - if not more - important, both for the employees and the company. These moments of spontaneous exchange represent so many opportunities to weave informal and convivial links. They contribute to recreate the cohesion of the work group, which is essential to give added value to the company and to reinforce the meaning the employee must find at the office.
Indeed, these informal meetings support "serendipity": by crossing paths in a corridor or at a coffee machine, employees exchange information and knowledge, encouraging the emergence of new ideas. Unexpected exchanges thus become a lever of creativity, driven by collective intelligence, which enriches the company's activity. Finally, they allow employees to develop their internal network within their organization, breaking down silos in favor of cross-functionality, which was at the heart of corporate issues long before the health crisis, but which has been further undermined by the Covid years. They are also an opportunity for employees to learn more about the company's other businesses and to consider career prospects, which are essential for retaining young talent.
To encourage these chance encounters, it is necessary to rethink the design and organization of work spaces, paying particular attention to the flow and crossing spaces within the building.
« Physical proximity and the frequentation of a common territory remain powerful levers for creating social links. However, once it has been established, this link can persist through virtual exchanges » *
The objective is to make these places of passage into essential spaces to interconnect people and teams. As an example, this can be translated by the oversizing of a central staircase, visible and accessible by all, to create the opportunity to exchange, without hindering the circulation. An adapted design can make this staircase a place of life and a marker of identity.
In addition, these meeting places bring a reserve of flexibility, appreciated by companies, in the use of space. These square meters can, in fact, be used for other purposes by being transformed, from time to time, into coworking spaces, informal meeting areas or even event spaces...
The new challenge for companies is to adapt the spaces organization to the changing behaviors of employees and new work practices in a more global ergonomic approach, well beyond the workstation, encouraging informal and chance encounters, which are so fruitful for their activity and the strengthening of the collective.
*Source : « Can we virtually team up? The case of international project teams », New journal of psychosociology, vol. 14, no. 2, 2012, pp. 35-50