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"How are you?"​ The lost art of serendipity & water cooler chats

Sarah Ingwersen Career Advice, Sarah Ingwersen

These are surreal times. We are so physically remote from each other yet have so many ways of connecting. Six months ago I had never used Microsoft Teams. Now I have about eleventy-million internal Teams calls each week. And then there’s Zoom for client calls, candidate interviews, webinars, round tables, virtual conferences and team quiz nights. Not to mention the random platforms I have to furiously download when I realise two minutes beforehand that the call is on a piece of kit I’ve never heard of before.

So it feels like we’re connecting now more than ever and embracing technology to support this. In some ways it’s been an unexpected gift; during the past six months Taylor Root’s in-house team has hosted over 25 virtual events, with 15 more planned for Q4. We have connected and facilitated networking with thousands of clients and candidates; so many more than we ever would have met face-to-face in the real world. 

However, what a lot of us are missing whilst we're still WFH are those serendipitous office-based encounters in the kitchen, the lift, walking to and from meetings... Those moments when you run into someone from a different team and ask how they are, or how their children are, or what they're working on. THIS is the engagement piece that we’re all trying to replicate through technology. 

Yesterday I worked in our office in the City. I ran into a colleague from our Client Services team as we were making a coffee. We had been in contact during lock down but hadn’t actually spoken in the past six months. We got chatting about client events our team is hosting over the next few months. I mentioned that I've partnered up with an exceptional General Counsel to explore a new concept in the corporate world that we want to share with our network. Turns out that quite by chance he knows quite a bit about this area and he was able to send me a whole lot of information to assist with my research. I never would have thought to reach out to him, but a chance encounter has led to an unlikely collaboration and has enabled me to upskill far quicker. It made me wonder what else I'm missing out on by not extending my internal network further.

Whilst we can’t directly replicate the interconnecting moments and chance encounters that occur during our office-based day, reaching out further to those who aren’t in our current circle of communication may unearth some surprising and unexpected benefits. Let me know if you have any success!