Where you stand depends on where you sit.
That’s what a lot of companies are finding. In order to increase collaboration and innovation, some firms are moving employees around every few months. The idea is that by seeing and hearing what different colleagues do, workers can get new insight into how to do their jobs differently.
Companies have experimented with organizational charts seemingly forever. And research shows what common sense would dictate: changing reporting relationships rarely changes what work gets done. Sitcoms and comic strips satirize the clueless boss who thinks a new reporting structure can revolutionize the office.
But casual conversations can. A New York ad agency tried intermingling its accountants and media buyers, hoping they would begin to each other’s skills. The idea worked so well that the media buyers started to do accountancy on their own, saving the company hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
But managers need to be careful. One 600-person firm which randomly changes its seating every three months found that no one can remember who sits where. Sometimes a little stability is useful.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer