It seems to me apparent and understandable that most people prefer hybrid working over being in the office from 9-5 five days a week. Nonetheless, prominent companies and prominent people still seem to be saying everyone must go back to the office. One of the main reasons given for this is the supposed value of the so-called water cooler conversations that you supposedly cannot achieve through virtual conversations.
On the one hand, I am a great believer in the value of being together in person. It beats virtual any time, though virtual still has its benefits and its uses. I do however dispute the value of spontaneous, chance conversations. The argument is that such conversations trigger creativity.
Yet, we also say that the formal, structured coaching conversation triggers creativity. Coaching conversations give people space to articulate their thoughts, think them through, identify the implications, ramifications, and possible unintended consequences. They allow this in a non-judgmental and safe way. They spur ‘out of the box’ thinking. Then you go and find the people you need to develop these ideas further and make them happen. These are better ingredients for innovation and creativity than the chance meetings at work. These have a different value, such as reminding people you exist, and building the rapport and understanding that is essential for good teamwork, finding common ground, and finding out what you are each up to.
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©Janice Caplan 2020