Those who encourage ridesharing often focus on cost saving or environmental arguments to persuade people to try ridesharing. While these are important benefits of ridesharing, one very important benefit often goes unheralded. Ridesharing can be beneficial in improving organizational and team communication and effectiveness.
I personally vow to carpool at least one time per week with another staff member. At first, this arrangement was mostly an effort to “practice what we preach” by making sure we carpooled every week. Over time it became increasingly apparent that carpooling was actually helping us become more effective in our jobs. Although we don’t have a large staff, 11 people, staff members are distributed among two floors in the same building. The effect of a “stairwell barrier” is alive and well even in a small organization. My carpool partner and I have offices on separate floors, and carpooling has been indispensable in fostering communication on joint projects and generating ideas for synergies between seemingly separate projects. It would be hard to estimate the level of economic value that unexpectedly comes from carpooling. I have no doubt that in our case it is real.
As organizations of all sizes flatten and cross-functional teams become the norm, carpooling and vanpooling may become surefire ways to ensure that adequate communication is taking place between workgroups. Likewise, technology has enabled new telework and hybrid distance working arrangements. On those days when part-time teleworkers are coming into the office, person-to-person conversations in carpools or vanpools may prove indispensable to team and workgroup effectiveness. Finally, employees involved in travel, telework or distance work often miss-out on the regular personal in-office networking opportunities that, despite rapidly changing technology, are necessary for effectiveness and career advancement. Carpooling or vanpooling, as little as once a week, could help employees keep up their personal professional relationships.
Readers of this blog who are employed in large organizations, or organizations that make extensive use of workgroups and teams, please encourage your employer to become a best workplace for commuters and to use carpooling or vanpooling to help strengthen team communication and effectiveness.