Build informal interactions from home

With us in the Netherlands, most knowledge workers are working from home for a month or so. This has a lot of effects on interpersonal interactions.

To discover this it is insightful to split these interactions into formal interactions and informal interactions. The formal interactions are your daily stand-ups, weekly project meetings, monthly bilaterals with your manager, etc. Informal interactions are the casual chat in the hallway, visiting your colleague at their desk for thinking along, the spontaneous coffee you have when you run in to someone, etc.

Interpersonal interactions that spur knowledge sharing and recombination are very often the informal interactions. These interactions are very often coordinated by coincidence and serendipity. See my previous article on a case example for the potential value of knowledge serendipity.

While working from home, I find the formal meetings to be shorter and more effective. They tend to start on time and finish earlier than ever before. Taken into account the saving of travel time, this is a huge benefit! The informal meetings however seem to either be forfeited completely, or take up a lot of time. It is a lot harder to casually connect to someone for informal contact when you are not physically together.

Because it is so hard to get those informal connections and interactions going, I am interested to hear what you are doing to keep having them in this time?

I saw a nice example by Joost Meijer of Itility, where he created a theme “Itility T-Shirt Thursday” for his colleagues.
What are you doing to keep those informal interactions going? How do you approach new contacts while working from home? Looking forward to hear new, crazy, innovative approaches.



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