It is a term often heard recently for those getting new office space, we are moving to a “collaborative work space”.  This was the conversation recently at a business event.  One person was relating to the others in the group about her new office space.  It sounds new, hip and evokes a sense of cutting edge.  Another person made the comment that those “collaborative environments” don’t seem so collaborative when workers put on the earbuds or headsets and “tune out” the people around them.

I had the experience of working in a startup incubator in Chicago which had one of those collaborative and “open” floor plans.  The idea was to put everyone in one open space in order to encourage collaboration.  This is great in theory, but neglects the fundamental human tendency to mind your own business and keep to yourself.  Except for the occasional conversation at the coffee machine, or lunch room talk, generally people do not collaborate.  At least not without some catalyst.

This changed big time for me when the incubator decided to try a new twist on networking. The started doing “speed networking” using Biz MatchUp™ to create the matches  This made a big difference. It helped that they used Biz MatchUp™ to allow attendees of the event to connect before the event, online and choose who they would like to meet.  Then at the event, attendees had a list of the 9 people they would meet with in the next 90 minutes.  It was high energy, fast paced and really helped each person refine and focus their goals for networking.  After repeating your “pitch” 9 times in 90 minutes, you tend to refine and get clarity a little bit each time you deliver.

The big benefit to all in the room was they each got to know 9 people.  And on returning to the collaborative work environment, they could easily engage in conversation because those people were not strangers anymore.  This encourages more idea sharing and people helping each other because they know each other.

The incubator continues to encourage collaboration by having regular speed networking events with these focused matches using Biz MatchUp™.


To learn more about Biz MatchUp™ click here.