If the idea of being tracked gives you Orwell-esque “big brother” vibes, you might not love what’s trending now in talent management: Beacons. But letting coworkers know where to find you shouldn’t make you think the NSA is over your shoulder. Instead, it’s a method of collaboration gaining traction in organizations like Google.

Imagine this: You have a question that needs to be answered at work. Instead of physically tracking down the best person to talk to (or worse, not getting the answers at all), you’re able to digitally locate the right person and can easily find their location for quicker, easier collaboration. Here’s how it works.

Talent Management 2.0

In order for beacons to work as a collaboration tool, the organization has to be light years ahead of the game in terms of talent management. That’s because beaconing only works if first, the organization has a comprehensive catalog in place which details each employee, their credentials, and their expertise in one place.

Talent management is more than just basic HR: It’s a shift in the way companies think about human capital. By categorizing employees based on their skills and expertise, it’s easier to do everything from allow entry-level employees to get to know their coworkers to putting together the right team for an upcoming project.

Tracking at Work

Beaconing is simply a way for organization to locate employees based on their location while at work. Instead of Joe in marketing searching for an expert opinion from Linda in IT, he can plug in the expertise and help he’s looking for into the company talent catalog, locate a few personnel that fit the bill, and then use GPS to physically locate those who best fit the description.

It might sound like a way for organizations to see how long their employees hang out in the lunch room, but this advanced method of cataloging and location the right team members has merit, particularly in onboarding applications. A new employee doesn’t really know anyone to start, so using beacons could be a way to help new hires identify key players and better assimilate to the workplace culture.

Beacons also encourage more collaboration within the organization. Face-to-face interactions often suffer when digital and social media communication is more prevalent, especially on large work campuses. By physically locating the right person, employees can enjoy personal communication, all while finding those colleagues who are poised to answer a question, lend expertise, or even fill out a special team for an upcoming project.

Hey, maybe beacons are less “big brother” and more team effort. Either way, it’s a fresh way to look at talent management and workplace collaboration.