Did open space seating, “kill” one-on-one meetings?

One on One Calendar Meetings

The past ten years or so has seen a new fad in the configurations of office space. Whereas once there was a very strong pecking order for offices, views, and size, a more egalitarian outlook has started to permeate the corporate world. Open space became all the rage, with everyone from the CEO to the entry level programmer sitting at the same sized desk with an open floor plan. 

Not wanting to get into a debate about the merits (or not) of this style seating, there does seem to be one major drawback. More than ever managers don’t feel the need to schedule one on one meetings with their employees, because they are literally sitting with them throughout the entire day. Why put time in the calendar for something which occurs naturally.

“We talk all the time.” “I sit right next to them.” “What could a private meeting provide that we don’t get during our day to day interactions?” These are all certainly valid points but they also miss the point entirely of one on one meetings. 

So here are 5 reason to have that one on one meeting in your calendar: 

  1. Some employees don’t feel comfortable talking about certain issues in an open office space. You probably duck into a phone booth to call your doctor about that rash, and they too have issues they’d prefer to address in private. Be sure to provide them that opportunity, as not all employees will be so forthcoming and initiate a meeting.  
  2. It becomes a meaningful space for feedback and growth. Providing constructive criticism and areas of growth to employees is best done in the privacy of a meeting room. They will certainly be more receptive to it if they know the entire department isn’t listening in. 
  3. They can address issues they have with their co-workers. Yes, sometimes employees have issues they want advice on regarding how to deal with a co-worker. It’s obviously not something they are going to talk about with you at their open space desk. 
  4. It’s an opportunity to dig a little deeper into their professional career and provide meaningful guidance. It’s not going to happen every week but taking a few minutes of quiet time with an employee can be very impactful. 
  5. You can build a better rapport and relationship with them. Open space discussions tend to be very technical and one dimensional. “Is the project running on time, yes/no”?  One on one meetings are a great opportunity to get to know your employees on a more personal level. Start off each meeting asking about their weekend/day/kids/hobbies etc. A more meaningful relationship will lead to a more productive working environment. 

So if you’ve gone ahead and cancelled those one on one calendar meetings be sure to pencil them back in! You’ll thank us for it down the road. 

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