“Water cooler talk” is the term used to describe casual discussions between co-workers about non-work-related topics. The term originated at a time when employees all worked in the same office, which invariably had a water cooler.
In general, water cooler talk conjures up a cliché of employees gossiping about their employer and fellow employees comes to mind, driving many employers to discourage these casual conversations. While idle gossip isn’t helpful and shouldn’t be supported, casual conversations about topics such as the weather, sports, TV shows, can help build a cohesive workplace and in turn, strengthen the company’s culture.
While you might think conversation not related to work might be a productivity killer, the opposite has proven to be true. Water cooler talk helps employees relax and get to know their colleagues in a more personal way. This informality can positively impact a company and actually improve employee morale and actually increase productivity.
The benefits of water cooler conversation for a workplace cannot be overstated. Here are some important reasons to get a water cooler for your office:
- Water cooler chats enable people to feel more comfortable and encourage employees to get to know each other and connect on a personal level
- Build community. water cooler chats have provided short but necessary mental and physical breaks, opportunities to temporarily de-stress, and brief but meaningful moments that help to foster community–all of which improve engagement and reset focus.
- Informal chats with management are easier. Chats with a senior member away from the desk can help break down the formalities of hierarchical structure.
Water cooler chat is just as important (if not more so) in the digital age than in the past. The best managers already know it’s beneficial, even if they have some apprehensions about it. So, articulate a set of guidelines, let people talk and buy a watercooler