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It’s been said that to really understand someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. Global Operations is in the business of building productivity, so instead of walking, we “desk swap” – meaning, we perform our daily roles in a different desk location and use that time to learn about what our colleagues do.

Our General Manager always encourages us to: “go talk to other teams!”; “figure out who your upstream and downstream are!”; “say ‘hi’ in the elevator!”; etc. Desk swap was the concept that came to mind as a way for us to meet new people and learn how other departments in the building are connected. I acted upon the idea, created a sign-up on GE Forms, and posted about it on Yammer.

As the creator of this initiative, it was only fair for me to give it a shot myself. I swapped desks with a colleague from Accounting. She came up to the 12th floor of the Cincinnati Center to sit with my Global Learning Solutions team, and I sat with the Cash CEO team amidst our R2R group on the 7th floor.

During our desk swap, she learned how the Global Learning Solutions team collaborates and partners with businesses to create the trainings provided through GE Learning. She was very impressed with the open and supportive culture we’ve built in our team, using the Harry Potter theme to support the PD@GE recognition program for our “House Cup” quarterly prize. Coming out of our desk swap, she decided to implement a recognition program in R2R to nurture a more cohesive culture within her Cash COE team.

On my end, I spent time meeting the Cash COE team and sat with another accountant to learn what various acronyms mean. He showed me a summary of his daily job and the excel formulas he used. We collaborated and found an opportunity for him to automate the aging process for clearing his accounts. Immediately following our desk swap, he began work on automating 10-15 reports, along with tying his excel macro and SAP scripts together using UiPath. Today, he is working on clearing 495 accounts using excel macros and SAP scripts! This “by chance” desk swap resulted in huge efficiency for him and his team.

To date, 32 employees in the building have participated in the Desk Swap program. Each swap has resulted in increased learning and better networking. Last month, we launched the Passport Program; anyone who completes three desk swaps by February can win a lunch with members of the NAM leadership team.

Here in the Cincinnati Center, we’re always looking for ways to connect the dots. Desk swaps not only help us learn about what other groups are doing; it gives us the chance to share expertise and help simplify and improve processes – sometimes, with people who are not even direct participants of the desk swap! If you’re interested in more information about the desk swap program, please reach out to me.

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