Face Time Is Important, Even in Age of Facebook

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With all of the talk about connecting with colleagues via tools like instant messaging, wikis and video conferences, folks tend to forget there's a highly effective -- and inexpensive -- way of getting the job done.


Remember an archaic little practice called a personal conversation?


Pat Frain, the director of Ireland's University College Dublin's incubation and technology transfer center, wants folks there to engage in more face time.


One of his tricks for getting the geeks to mingle, described in a News.com blog, was lowering the price of coffee at the center's cafe -- and not serving it until 10 a.m., when more folks are likely to leave their offices and encounter colleagues who are also in need of a caffeine fix. The java is priced at 1.30 euros, which is about 2 euros (U.S. $3) less than the going rate elsewhere in Dublin.


Frain also had architects use lots of glass during a building renovation, and relocate the stairs and elevators to create a heavier traffic flow.


It remains to be seen whether these practices will help the incubator achieve its goal of establishing 10 start-ups a year, but it does seem to highlight the importance of interpersonal communication. Frain isn't the only one who recognizes this.


As I blogged back in May, several start-ups housed at a Salesforce.com incubator welcomed the opportunity to personally discuss ideas with other entrepreneurs. And IT Business Edge blogger Loraine Lawson in December related the results of a Sandia National Laboratories study that suggested that researchers were better able to solve complex problems by collaborating with their colleagues in person.