By Alina Dizik
Varun Mathure’s desk at work is near the kitchen, so the London-based marketing executive finds himself privy to all manner of discussions going on in there.
But, his colleagues are likely unaware. You can’t blame them. With his headphones in — but not always playing music — Mathure looks at his computer screen without giving any hint that he may be paying attention. But he is. At other times, it’s impossible for him not to overhear conversations if they’re held at a loud volume. It can be distracting, especially when he’s on deadline for a project. But there are also benefits to overhearing certain conversations, he says.
Open-plan workspaces mean it’s now easier than ever to stumble across a conversation that would have otherwise been held behind closed doors
Rather than disregarding the trickle of watercooler talk as irrelevant gossip, he says the information helps him build rapport with colleagues in unexpected ways. Mathure takes mental notes on the most light-hearted conversation topics and brings them up casually at the next appropriate social interaction.