Recent research by IntotheBlue has revealed something which I initially found surprising. Around 32% of employees said that they don’t know all of their colleagues names.

When asked why this is the case, 36% said they simply hadn’t been introduced to all of their colleagues, while 28% said they had forgotten them, and 22% said they were working in different departments.office-336368_1280While this seemed unrealistic at first, I then thought back to the last time I worked in an office. I worked for an electricity company which had hundreds of staff members in numerous offices around the country.

When I first started work I did training with a select number of people who I got to know very well. A few months later I switched to the billing team which had around 9 people, so I learned all of their names and we became close. I also spoke regularly to people in accounts and credit.

However when it came to other teams, I couldn’t have told you anyones names. I would see people every day in the break room or walking past my desk, and yet I would simply know them as “beard guy” “women with great shoes” and “couple who are constantly making out”.startup-593304_1280The survey asked employees how they thought their companies could make it easier for them to learn their colleagues names, and the results were interesting. 47% of people said that the situation could be made better with regular team meetings, and 37% said that nights out as a team would help. 35% said that team building events were a great way to learn names, 25% said the answer was company charity work, while 17% said away days.

For me, I always found that team building events were definitely the best way to learn my colleagues names and get to know them outside of an office environment. When you’re working in a large office often the only thing you have in common is the fact that you work for the same company, however getting to know people outside of that environments allows you to talk about shared passions, similar backgrounds, and kids of the same age.

The research agrees, and 37% of respondents said they had been on a team building exercise at least once, and 88% agreed that the activities resulted in a closer team.

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I remember joining the office rowing team, and getting up at 5am to row along the river in preparation for an inter-company competition. I was in a boat with people from many different departments throughout the company, and managed to click with a large number of them. This made my life easier in the office, as I had key contacts in many different departments for when I needed help, and they knew they could come to me as well.

When colleagues get along, the entire environment of the office changes, and becomes more productive. I found the my business article  to be enlightening and a good indication that businesses need to focus resources on team building events and activities.