Having a water cooler in the office is a great way to help employees stay well hydrated and healthy. However, these machines often become a meeting place for employees to take some time out of their days to talk and distract themselves from work.
So how do you turn this water cooler chat into something that will really benefit your company rather than the usual gossip session? Here are some ideas for making this inevitable conversation at the water cooler more productive:
Have a whiteboard near the water cooler
By putting up a whiteboard next to the water cooler, you’re giving people a place to write down any good ideas they come up with while standing there. Encourage your employees to use the space for brainstorming or talking about new work concepts.
This way, you’re giving your employees a chance to step away from their desks and yet they’re still being productive. The water cooler will become a space for free thinking that will benefit the entire company.
Print out topical articles and put them up by the water cooler
Water cooler chat is inevitable. However, there are ways to steer the conversation without someone always monitoring the people standing there. Try finding articles that are relevant to your business and industry, and post them next to your water cooler.
Having something interesting to read right there will help to spark conversations related to work rather than just gossip about other employees’ new haircuts or office politics. Remember, make sure that the articles you print out are current and relevant to the people in your office.
Remember that employees need a moment to de-stress
Sometimes a little bit of chit-chat about the weather or what you got up to over the weekend is good for morale. If your employees spend a few minutes at the water cooler just talking about normal social interactions, this is actually a good thing. It means that they’re interested in each other’s lives and are more likely to work together better if they’re friends.
People also need a moment to step away from their computers and let their brains wander onto topics that aren’t work related. A quick break can help a person to de-stress and relax for a moment so that they can tackle the project they’re working on with fresh eyes again.