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The Scenario

We're an small IT firm with 10 - 15 employees split into three different offices (A,B & C):

Office Layout

Each morning as staff members arrive, they make their way through these offices in order to greet each other (usually by handshake).

The conversation usually goes a bit like:

Tom: Hey Joe, top of the mornin' to ya! [Initiate handshake]

Joe: [Receive handshake] Hi Tom! How are you doing?

Tom: [Insert Witty repartee]

Joe: [Chuckle] Have a good day!

Or a different rendition hereof.

This is great for atmosphere & personal interaction - but as we've grown it's started to become a bit superfluous / inefficient, with employees walking back and forth between offices, repeating greetings etc.

My employer has asked me to devise a plan which will allow us to maintain the benefits of the personal greeting though in a more efficient manner.




Possible Solution

I'm thinking about proposing a 5 minute meeting each morning in the conference room in which we will all have the opportunity to greet each other and get up to speed with the day.

Is this the optimal solution?

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    Define inefficient. Does it take too much time? Do people come in one after another in the morning so people are constantly being disturbed while people are coming in? I wouldn't quite recommend to have everyone go to the conference room first just to greet each other. If you'd combine it with, say, breakfast and/or daily standup, then maybe yes. Commented May 27, 2015 at 8:50
  • People do come in one after another in the morning so it does result in constant disturbance to a certain degree.
    – anon
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 8:59
  • I make sure to say hello (once) to the receptionist and to the boss so that they know that I am in the office. Likewise, I make sure to say good bye (once) to the receptionist and the boss any time I am going out of the office. This way, there are at least two people in the office who know whether I am in or out. I say hello and good bye (once) to everyone I run into but if I don't run into them, I don't go out of my way to look for them. Commented May 27, 2015 at 10:30
  • I've actually been in an office where the greeting was "structured" in the way the OP is getting at. The way it was achieved was by mentioning it one time in the training material and then not making a big deal about it. I think the office culture plays a big part of how this sort of interaction will work. You can't "force" it to happen a certain way but maybe you can nudge it in the right direction the same way you can suggest "Good morning" as an official morning greeting when you're learning business English.
    – Brandin
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 12:06
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    The person who gave you this task clearly has too much time on their hands. Commented May 27, 2015 at 14:40

3 Answers 3

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What you have now is typical for a small company. As you grow, you'll find that people spend less time seeking each other out to say hello, simply because it becomes boring and unnecessary - they'll tend to greet people as they come across them. I would encourage you and your boss to let this evolve naturally.

"5 minute greetings time" sounds a very bad idea because it ossifies normal social interaction into a ritual, which presumably comes with negative consequences for non-participation. Social interaction is by its very nature somewhat inefficient and it's the price you pay for being a friendly cooperative environment rather than a micromanaged one; it is well worth paying, though, because it creates an atmosphere much more conducive to collaboration. Your meeting also is liable to embarrass those who are (justifiably) late in, and break the flow of those who are in early and already working. And you can be pretty sure it won't stay as 5 minutes.

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As Julia says, enforced greetings is a very inefficient way to manage this, and it won't "scale".

However, what you can do is combine the greetings with some other part of work - if you have daily meetings, then have them in the morning, so people can all congregate and chat before the meeting starts. If you have coffee and/or breakfast nibbles laid out, there's a reason to turn up and participate too.

The purpose of the meeting is not to do greeting however, you allow social interaction to happen by itself, have the meeting for its own reasons. Even 1 or 2 a week might be sufficient to "oil the wheels" of your interactions, and let the other days just happen as they will.

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I would suggest a short coffee break/meeting each morning. Event though your context is similar to my workplace we don't experience the same problem.

Of course will the working culture of your country, social norms and company culture/policy determine what will work best but here is how we do it in my department: We are 8 people in 5 offices, with a common meeting room in the middle. As people arrive, they have a short conversation only if they intersect in the meeting room and if there is time. When entering an office, the person would say 'Hello/Good morning', and the others would reply. An hour after the normal arrival time everybody holds a 15 minutes coffe break together in the meeting room.

It works fine, and there is no indication of dissatisfaction with this system. The coffee meeting makes the process more efficient, and the spontaneous conversations outside the break keep communication natural.