The Office Water Cooler Keeps the Conversation Flowing
We’ve all experienced a drought of live conversation throughout the pandemic. Remote work and empty offices caused friendly water cooler chatter to dry up for over eighteen months. Before COVID, many of us spent more than half of our waking hours at work. It’s not surprising that most folks have missed their routine social interactions, friendships with colleagues, and the energy of a “live” work environment.
Remote work doesn’t provide opportunities for co-workers to catch up after a long meeting or enjoy lunch together. Nearly three-quarters of workers in an Indeed survey say they miss socializing in the office, 45% miss in-person meetings, and 73% miss seeing their colleagues in person.
The water cooler has always been an essential part of business life and the benefit of spontaneous conversation among co-workers shouldn’t be minimized. As employees begin trickling back to the office, they need to fill their tank with healthy relationships which help rebuild a robust rapport among officemates.
Provide the Resource for Positive Communication and Connection
The beauty of water cooler conversation bubbles up from its spontaneity and casual nature. Less formality allows managers to understand what’s going on in the lives of their staff and allows employees to feel comfortable about providing honest feedback.
Here are some ways to cultivate your company culture:
- Wish each other good morning, recap the weekend’s playoff game, or recommend a favorite Netflix series.
- Take moments to bask in the celebration of a big contract or a new baby. When appropriate, use these casual moments to make impromptu announcements or give a shoutout to an employee who has gone above and beyond. FTI Consulting notes a statement from Singapore-based psychotherapist Maria Luedeke: “You can boost morale by letting peers know about achievements . . . Peer-to-peer support is critical at every level when creating a sense of community.
- Strengthen personal connections by learning about the hobbies and interests of your staff, and engage them in offering suggestions for company outings or events.
- Embrace the younger, recently onboarded employees. Established “old-timers” already have relationships with each other and will be more comfortable reconnecting than the newbies. Be sure that employees hired during the pandemic can grow and develop rapport with the rest of the team. It’s a good idea to assign a mentor or a “work buddy” for new staff members, and be sure to invite and include them in your daily catch-up conversations.
The casual nature of office chatter also lends itself to a few giggles. “The workplace needs laughter,” Harvard Business Review declared. “Laughter relieves stress and boredom, boosts engagement and well-being and spurs not only creativity and collaboration but also analytic precision and productivity.”
Classic lines, memorable stories, and hysterical happenings cultivate camaraderie when sprinkled through water cooler chatter. The benefits of friendly conversation and lifelong workplace friendships cannot be underrated.
Although meetups don’t necessarily have to happen at the water cooler, make sure you have enough fresh water and other beverages to revitalize and hydrate your team. Corporate Essentials has everything your business needs to keep the conversation flowing!