You’ve just finished a meeting, gathered your papers, and are now headed to the photocopier. Just another routine moment in the office, right? But what if I told you that the next person you bump into by the copier could potentially change the trajectory of your career—or even change the world?
Yes, you heard that right. Think about it: How many incredible ideas have been born out of casual, unplanned interactions? Let’s take a closer look at a fascinating example.
The Nobel-Winning Discovery Born in the Copy Room
In 2023, Professors Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Their groundbreaking work in RNA biology led to the rapid development of mRNA vaccines during the Covid pandemic. And guess where this life-changing partnership began? Next to a departmental photocopier at the University of Pennsylvania.
Karikó was printing research papers when she met Weissman. Both scientists were passionate about mRNA as a potential therapeutic. They decided to combine their expertise, and ultimately, their work became the cornerstone for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
A chance meeting at a photocopier led to a scientific breakthrough that has saved countless lives.
The Art of Casual Networking
You see, the photocopier is more than just a machine that spits out duplicates. It’s a hub of human interaction—a place where professionals from different departments, each with their own set of skills and viewpoints, converge.
So next time you’re standing there, waiting for your documents, don’t just stare at the wall. Strike up a conversation with the person next to you. You never know what might come out of it. Don’t underestimate these seemingly trivial encounters; they could be the start of something big.
Why Cross-Departmental Collaboration Matters
And it’s not just about Nobel Prizes. Cross-departmental collaboration can lead to improved processes, cost-saving measures, and innovative solutions to everyday challenges. Whether you’re in accounting, marketing, or procurement, the benefits of working with someone from a different area are enormous.
Remember, it was Karikó’s expertise in RNA biology and Weissman’s funding that made their partnership so effective. It’s about complementing each other’s skills, not duplicating them. So, when was the last time you worked closely with someone from another department? Maybe it’s time to change that.
The Role of Office Professionals
If you’re an office or administration professional, you may be wondering how this relates to you. Well, you’re the architects of the office environment. The layout of the office, the choice of equipment, the communal spaces—all these factors play a role in facilitating or hindering collaboration.
Consider this: Are your photocopiers and printers strategically placed to encourage spontaneous interactions? Or are they hidden away in some distant corner? Take a hard look at your office layout. Maybe it’s time for a little shake-up?
The Potential to Change the World Lies in Everyday Moments
That’s the thing about life – you never really know which moments will turn out to be pivotal. A casual chat over coffee, a shared laugh in the lift, or even a quick ‘hello’ by the photocopier could lead to something extraordinary.
Karikó had to endure decades of scepticism and even faced demotion due to lack of funding. Yet, she persisted. When she met Weissman, it wasn’t in a high-stakes meeting or an academic conference. It was in an everyday setting, and look where that led them.
Time to Take Action
So, what are you waiting for? Next time you find yourself at the photocopier, seize the opportunity. Don’t just collect your papers and walk away. Engage, interact, and explore the possibilities. Who knows? Maybe your next trip to the photocopier will be more than just a routine task. It could be the start of a groundbreaking partnership.
How will your next chance meeting at the photocopier change the world? After all, if it can happen to Nobel laureates, why not you?
To discover the best way to queue for the photocopier, read our Ultimate Guide To Photocopier Queue Etiquette.