Tuesday 30th March 2021
Woman checking her phone in a modern office setting

Back when everyone had their own desk and they worked there from 9 to 5, it was easy to find a colleague. Even in businesses occupying multiple floors over several locations, you’d always be able to locate a colleague in the office. Increasingly, however, offices are not like that.

With modern desk-sharing policies and flexible working, how can you know where a colleague is if you need to meet up? They could be at one of many desks, in the breakout space or even at home. Here’s why it’s important to know where people are, and how to achieve visibility.

The difficulties of finding colleagues in a large business

The ease with which colleagues can meet up is one of the issues that troubles large businesses switching to open plan and flexible working. You can probably give them a call, but what if the business has a no-phones policy, or if there are spots where signals are weak? And what if you must know where someone will be in two hours’ time? It’s a source of friction to a successful switch, and can be difficult to overcome.

It’s felt especially strongly in businesses where there’s a lot of collaboration between employees. If sales and marketing employees often work hand in hand, or if managers and team leaders regularly touch base to discuss plans, knowing where they are is essential.

Why locating colleagues is so important

Some would say we’ve all got so used to meeting online that the old-fashioned face-to-face meeting is looking like something from a bygone era. It’s true that there are plenty of businesses that can work happily and seamlessly remotely, but it’s not universal.

That’s why it’s more likely that businesses are going to adopt a hybrid approach to meetings. There’s a big difference between a daily catch-up, which can probably be done online, and an all-day meeting discussing mission-critical subjects. Each department will find its own biting point where the efficiency of video conferencing is outweighed by the need for detailed, in-person communication. 

That’s why it will remain vital to keep in touch with colleagues’ locations throughout the working day. It’s arguably more important now, because the scattered nature of flexible working makes it harder to keep tabs on someone you need to chat with.

The benefits of face-to-face meetings

Why should businesses encourage face-to-face meetings? Here are some of the most pressing reasons:

  • Collaboration is more effective when employees are around the same table. Non-verbal cues play a big part in discussing issues, and they can be missed in video calls. 
  • For all the wonders of video conferencing, they can be distracting. In long meetings, attendees’ minds start wandering. Those email notifications can’t be ignored, can they? Meeting in a work environment, be it around a desk or informally in a breakout room, ensures focus and productivity.
  • Not all meetings are possible over video. If you’re demonstrating a prototype or showing detailed drawings, there’s no substitute for physical presence, where you can get hands-on and bounce questions back and to.
  • Meeting a colleague for small talk like discussing weekend plans or where to eat lunch is vital for fostering good work relationships, and that’s always better face to face.
  • When someone is starting a new job, there’s no substitute for putting names to faces.
  • Technology sometimes lets us down. Whether it’s bad WiFi or mobile signal, a misbehaving computer, a software update or broken microphones and headphones, we’ve all had meetings ruined by malfunctioning tech.
  • It makes a nice change! After 18 months of remote working, isn’t it healthy to start building those personal relationships again in the presence of colleagues?

How to find a colleague with Condeco

Condeco has a smart solution to the colleague search problem. It’s simply called “Find a Colleague” and it does just that. Companies that use flexible offices ensure desks and rooms must be booked in advance to occupy them, and employees digitally sign in when they arrive. That way, their physical location will always be visible to anyone who needs to see them.

And if they’re working from home, off sick or located elsewhere, it’s no problem – the employee just sets that as their status and location and everyone who needs to know will be able to find them.

The system works in collaboration with our desk booking solution, which means employees have complete visibility on the whereabouts of colleagues not just now, but into the future too. That’s handy if you want to know where you should be this time tomorrow, or if you’re an hour away and need to head to the correct location to meet someone.

Office life might be changing, but the need to meet face to face will always be with us. And thankfully, there are solutions to keep the workplace buzzing.

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