Among the various downsides of a sudden shift to remote working, none is perhaps as hugely disregarded yet essential as the quintessential water cooler conversation.
Water cooler conversation has proven to be an office tradition that extends across nations and company cultures. It can be seen as being present in any office culture in any part of the world.
So, what exactly is the water cooler conversation? It is a day to day activity where staff members stand together (around a water cooler) and have face to face casual conversations with each other. The topics of conversation can range from work-related topics to personal level themes.
Water cooler talk has been a great way to bring people together and help team members to connect in an otherwise formal work environment. A water cooler chat acts to enhances the company culture and boosts employee morale.
However, with the onset of the pandemic, this event has come to a standstill, yet its need has increased.
Remote workers are desperately in need of some team bonding. They miss their work friends and having the ease of getting up from the desk for a few minutes to chat.
There is a dire need for improving employee engagement and morale. Enter the virtual water cooler conversation. A virtual water cooler is nothing but setting up a similar virtual work setting where staff members can chat informally and share their day to day activities.
Here are some simple things that you can do as a leader to set up and boost this practice:
5 Ways To Facilitate Virtual Water Cooler Conversations Among Remote Workers
1. Team Chat Apps
Team chat apps are great tools for remote workers to have instantaneous conversations. They provide a synchronized way for team members to connect without relying on the ever slow email.
The appeal of these apps is nestled in the efficiency and the convenience that they provide. Without the hassle of setting up a video call or adding everyone is an email thread, team chat apps are informal to get the conversation going.
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2. Informal Team Breaks
Set up a particular timing in a day when remote workers can take a break to indulge in casual conversations with their team members. Encourage them to indulge in “water cooler conversations,” i.e., without any specific agenda.
Assigning such break timings will not only allow them to bond with their peers but also will enable them to take a much-needed break. It is a great way to de-stress and rejuvenate oneself before continuing with the rest of the workday.
Ensure that the staff members are not disturbed with any work-related requests or tasks during this break time. Allow them to interact without any interruptions and genuinely enjoy the time. Not only will remote workers be much happier, but it will also support higher employee engagement.
3. Virtual Team Building Activities
Water cooler conversation is the idea of needing human interactions. Especially since the world is virtual, the need to connect has grown stronger. To support the social necessity of your remote workers, virtual team building activities are a godsend.
While many activities do sound troublesome, some activities will allow your staff members to socially interact effectively. Here are some entertaining ones that everyone will love:
- Book clubs are great to encourage the sharing of ideas and thoughts. Additionally, books do help in battling loneliness and stress.
- Weekly movie nights are an incredible way to have impromptu binge sessions with your work besties.
- Virtual team lunch can be utilized to enjoy the process of breaking bread just like you used to back in the office. The power of nostalgia is really effective.
- Icebreaker sessions are where everyone gets to ask fascinating questions to the other team members. They make for great conversation starters and get-to-knows.
- Everyone loves virtual trivia nights. Divide staff members into teams and simply have fun.
- Photo sharing sessions where remote workers share any interesting shots they have taken while being stuck at home.
4. Virtual Happy Hours
Virtual happy hours have seen incredible success with various social groups. It is a thing that has seen gain momentum in the pandemic just because it works. Since staff members can’t go out after a Friday gets over, virtual happy hours are an incredible alternative.
Hosting a virtual happy hour doesn’t even necessarily have to be about alcohol. It is about connecting over a long week of stress-inducing work and only having fun.
5. Create Virtual Clubs
Hosting virtual clubs are an excellent way for remote workers to connect over something that they love. Films, books, Star Wars- the opportunities are endless. Not only will it facilitate staff members from different teams to connect, but it will also enhance the company culture by boosting creativity.
Appoint a staff member as the club coordinator and let them organize events and virtual meetings that explore the interests of the remote workers.
According to you, how does having a virtual water cooler conversation benefit the remote workers and the company? We’d be really interested to hear it in the comment section below.