Day 11: KLS Randomised Coffee Trial

In December 2021, the Knowledge and Library Services team at UKHSA conducted a virtual Randomised Coffee Trial across the library team. The aim of this event was to have an opportunity to meet more members of the team – library staff work both virtually and physically across three different UKHSA sites so tools that bring individuals together to meet are really important.

A randomised coffee trial is a knowledge management tool aimed at sharing the tacit knowledge we all hold in our heads – about our current roles, previous experiences, hobbies and interests etc. Pairs are matches at random and will meet to have a coffee (in person or virtual) for about half an hour. Participants can either discuss specific conversation pointers or let the conversation free-flow. More information about randomised coffee trials (and UKHSA support for Knowledge Management) is available here:

We asked the participants of the KLS team randomised coffee trial to provide us with some thoughts and reflections about the process. These responses are summarised below.

The first pointer is that for those who took part and provided feedback, everyone had a positive experience from taking part. Some participants had taken part in a coffee trial before, and some really appreciated that there was time taken out of the workday to chat to someone they hadn’t spoken to before. All would take part in another coffee trial, with some comments to suggest widening it out to across the Research and Knowledge UKHSA team.

Secondly, many who took part commented that they learned more about the person’s role and workload. Participants expressed that they had made good connections that could be called upon if someone needed additional capacity with a work task.

Finally, the experience provided a much-needed opportunity for participants to connect virtually at a time of great change – many participants really valued the validation and space to talk to someone different within the team. Some participants were also able to discover common interests and hobbies, which really helped to get to know the person better.

In summary, the coffee trial is a great way to bring people together, whether this be within a large cross-site team or across divisions/groups. People value the opportunity to connect one to one and build good working relationships that will help to improve efficiency. It’s also great for finding out more about the person themselves, and the organic conversation might lead to you finding out something new!


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