Do you thrive on interaction? I do. I will often interrupt my suite-mate Roger with no pressing work-related task, but with an open-ended question that I hope will lead to an exchange of ideas. Expressing my thoughts and getting someone's feedback on my ideas is critical to my ability to stay engaged in and excited about my work.
Unfortunately, opportunities for that kind of interaction are few. Over the past couple of years, I have relied more and more on social media as an outlet for my ideas and a source of feedback from my colleagues. The connections I have online with colleagues around the world are invaluable, but they lack the context of a connection made with a colleague working for the same organization or working on the same project. The opportunities to connect with people inside our organization are mostly restricted to planned meetings that lack the immediacy and energy of the impromptu interactions I have with people online.
I spend a lot of time talking about the power on using online tools to connect with people around the world, but a recent article on how "millenials" view meetings, "Hustlin': For Millennials, Chat Rooms Are the New Conference Rooms," reminded me of the power that lies in connecting with those in your own organization, department or office.
At NDSU, we don't have to wait for the next brainstorming meeting or send mass invites to the latest social network to connect with our co-workers. Office Communicator is a tool available to us through Microsoft Online Services. Communicator is an instant communication tool, a chat. It's a great way to increase and enhance the informal interaction that is now relegated to the hall or the office doorway.
If Communicator is going to be the platform for that kind of interaction, two things have to occur. First, there has to be others in your office or department using Communicator. It's not interaction if you are talking only to yourself. Second, those using Communicator need to embrace the informal and spontaneous communication that chat tools are built for. If you are going to send out invitations and agendas for conversations in Communicator, you might as well just schedule a meeting.
NDSU employees can download and install Office Communicator by following these instructions. You can learn more about using Communicator here. Try it out and encourage others in your department or on your team to do the same. Use Communicator to ask a question, share an idea or just say, "Hi." Let the information flow.