Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An intriguing proposition

I ran into Peter at coffee break today. The ground floor of our office tower has a privately run coffee shop called the Corner Kitchen. I try as regularly as possible to go down to have a break with office colleagues as we used to do regularly back in the 80's just to nurture that important personal relationship that is otherwise lost in the hurried pace of today's workplace. With all the downsizing that has been happening since the late 90's we have become overworked. As people retired or moved the positions where often eliminated or just never backfilled but the work always remained and never disappeared so adjacent workers often took it over. Consequently to meet the workload, hours of work became longer. With that of course went any breaks and lunch was now normally eaten at one's desk, a significant drop in a quality of the workplace.

These coffee breaks – we usually break once-a-day in the morning – are great opportunities to discuss something that happened at the office, or share nuances, i.e. discuss a failed travel claim or impart personal experiences and the day's events or politics and its ramifications. These were also opportunities to discuss news, sports, or any new development such as the new iPod. Consequently I firmly believe that our office runs like a well-oiled machine. Admittedly such breaks can just as easily be abused to gossip or complain so it is very much up to the individuals involved.

For the last couple of years I also viewed these breaks as an important tool in succession planning and for transferring corporate knowledge. This is particularly important if one's retirement can be seen on the horizon. This type of knowledge does not preside just in emails and meeting rooms.

During my chance meeting with Peter, he advised me that he will be sailing his sail boat from Halifax to Picton. His previous plans were to sail from Halifax to the Caribbean however he thought that he would like to sail the Great Lakes this summer so changed his plans appropriately.

Being always keen for an adventure, and this being not too physically taxing for a 50-something, I offered to crew for him. He said he'd get back to me. I am quite intrigued with this proposition.

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