These moments have stemmed from sport, current affairs or TV firsts and have brought people together, all with a simple glass of water in hand.
Many businesses bring in a water cooler to make sure that their staff can have a fresh supply of drinking water, and many have discouraged lingering around the area, preferring them to be back at work. However, it actually seems that this might not be the best approach, as this water cooler chat can be an important tool in establishing healthy and productive workplace dynamics.
Water cooler chat began long before water coolers were brought into businesses, but the term has now taken on a life of its own. Every member of staff will need to take a break from time to time, and the chat that occurs around the water cooler allows employees to talk and think about something other than work just for a few minutes.
Whilst this might look like time-wasting to some, it’s actually an important practice that can boost productivity. Jamie-Leigh James, Marketing Executive at Cema Vending, shared a comment through her experience of speaking with clients:
Employees need to enjoy coming to work if they’re going to continue to work there and give their best. Encouraging the kind of company culture that creates strong employee engagement allows your staff to grow and flourish, and it can be often valued more than some pay rises. It’s a place where fun can occur, but it can also give rise to the discussion of ideas, plans and solutions as it gives a casual way to brainstorm.
If staff are kept in their own areas of the workplace, it can be difficult for some to come out of their shells and engage with other members of the workforce. Passing the time of day over the water cooler helps those with social anxieties to form bonds that they wouldn’t otherwise have done, helping to build confidence.
By interacting on a human level, staff often find that their working collaboration also improves. This is because their relationship has extended beyond the purely professional one and makes it easier for trust and respect to be built.
It’s not just conversation between employees that the water cooler can encourage - it also allows people to come face to face with management when they would not ordinarily have done so. This creates better working relationships throughout the workplace hierarchy and makes more senior team members seem more approachable.
Obviously, there’s one other benefit to the water cooler conversation, and that’s hydration. Allowing staff to have fresh, cool water close to hand encourages them to make healthy choices, over and above sugar-filled fizzy drinks or high levels of caffeine. Their health also improves by having the opportunity to relax and remove tension, which, when allowed to build up, can take a toll on mental health.
This goes to show that water cooler chat needs to be looked at from a different angle sometimes, as it can actually go a long way to changing how your employees work and interact. This can only ever benefit your business and make it somewhere that everyone wants to work, ensuring that they are more likely to give their best.