Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The New Meet Space; WORK; Colleagues Constantly Huddled around One Desk? No, They're Not Watching the Latest Viral Twerking -- They Could Actually Be Working. Joshi Herrmann Hails the 'Desk Meeting'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The New Meet Space; WORK; Colleagues Constantly Huddled around One Desk? No, They're Not Watching the Latest Viral Twerking -- They Could Actually Be Working. Joshi Herrmann Hails the 'Desk Meeting'

Article excerpt

Byline: Joshi Herrmann

LAST week, I experienced a workplace rebuff that may be familiar to plenty of people reading this. Padding over to speak to a senior colleague (who has subsequently taken surprising offence at the incident's development into an article idea), I was told that I should come back later because she was "having a meeting". A meeting, I thought to myself, but one without any of the constituent elements of a meeting, like an agenda, or a time planned in advance, or a booked room, or an inward-looking configuration of participants.

It was actually just one colleague sitting at her desk next to another colleague. What I would call an office chat, and they were calling a meeting.

Then, literally minutes later, I heard a different colleague telling someone on the phone that he had to go because he was "in a meeting". This one was sitting at his desk with someone standing next to him. Again, a chat, but christened a meeting. Which got me thinking: are my colleagues playing stupendously fast and loose with the word "meeting" -- a very long-established word referring to a vital corporate ritual -- or does talking to one or two people huddled around a desk somehow count these days? It has made sense for belt-tightening businesses with fewer staff and less office space to speed up their decisionmaking processes in recent years -- hence stories from the City about walk-and-talk catch-ups and cutting down on presentations. Tech start-ups have tried to innovate with the meeting format, introducing "stand-ups" where every member of a desk stands up and tells the others what they are working on. And books such as Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg's Inside the Box have challenged the wisdom of corporate groupthink, suggesting that pre-organised brainstorming might actually produce fewer ideas than everyone sitting at their desk and concentrating hard on the question in hand. …

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