Working from a virtual workspace has its perks for remote workers. However, there are a few downsides that we cannot ignore, such as the difficulty of recreating the water cooler conversations that have played a crucial role in encouraging collaboration and productivity at physical workspaces.
Luckily, you can use many digital tools to create a virtual water cooler to enjoy its numerous benefits.
What Is a Virtual Water Cooler, and Why Is It Essential in Your Workplace?
Can you remember all those small talks you had in the lift, or impromptu meetings in the break rooms, or the casual chats you had around the water cooler while you were filling your cup?
According to research, these random encounters are a great way to establish connections with colleagues, create a strong company culture, and improve collaboration.
That’s why Steve Jobs was obsessed with Pixar’s office layout, as he envisioned a large atrium space at the center that houses employee mailboxes, reception, bathrooms, etc., to encourage spontaneous run-ins and casual conversations.
Unfortunately, the virtual workplace lacks the physical spaces that allow you to run into someone and talk about that funny sitcom you are watching on Netflix. And this lack of serendipitous moments translates into reduced creativity, isolation, and a missing sense of community.
However, you do have the opportunity to leverage digital solutions that allow remote workers to gather and socialize through a virtual water cooler.
A virtual water cooler is an online space that helps facilitate spontaneous conversations and social interactions. It allows you to share memes or funny tweets, play games, talk about personal and professional goals, etc.
7 Reasons Why Your Workplace Needs a Virtual Water Cooler
You might be wondering why should you go out of your way to create a virtual water cooler? Here are a few reasons:
- Informal conversations in the workplace help to create a personal connection between employees that develop team rapport.
- Virtual water cooler interactions allow employees to take refreshing breaks from work pressures, and create a conducive environment that can spark creative ideas and improve productivity.
- Strong company culture is one of the foundations of any successful organization. Team building activities and water cooler talk help build a company culture that encourages productivity, promotes employee retention, and attracts top talents.
- Having regular virtual water cooler conversations can help create a healthier work-life balance in your organization.
- Virtual water cooler chats encourage workers who like to operate in their corners to break out of their shells and collaborate more easily with others.
- Virtual casual conversations help give new employees a warm welcome, and create a supportive environment that allows them to settle in fast.
- Virtual water cooler chats provide a platform to recognize and celebrate accomplishments, and promote collective growth in the workplace.
We bet you do not want to miss out on all these perks, and you are now wondering how you can facilitate virtual water cooler chats in your workplace.
Top Virtual Water Cooler Software You Can Use
Virtual water cooler software are digital tools that support casual interactions in the workplace. To get started, here are some you can use:
Slack is one of the best all-around communication tools to bring remote teams together, streamline collaboration, or use for virtual water cooler conversations.
You can use Slack to create a #water-cooler channel and invite members to have casual conversations. You could also create other channels for specific hobbies like #book-club, #gamer-lounge, #off-work, or #writer-club.
What if there’s a Slack app explicitly designed to promote water cooler conversations? If you do not want to create your #water-cooler channel on Slack on your own, you can add Donut to do all the heavy lifting.
Donut automatically creates your water cooler channel and randomly pairs team members for lively conversations. It can pair members from different departments to make sure everyone gets to know each other.
You can also pair new hires with onboarding buddies to make their integration within the team easier. This digital tool also provides templates you can use to build a strong company culture.
Trello is an easy-to-use collaboration tool that allows you to create boards, add tasks, assign them to team members, and track progress. However, you can also use these boards to create your virtual water cooler space for team members to have catch-up chats from time to time.
Alternatively, you can get creative and virtually gather team members at a set period around a specific hobby. For example, you can use Trello boards to create a book club, wine club, Bitcoin club, or a Netflix club to discuss and bond over shared interests.
If you go for the Netflix club, you can invite a few colleagues to make movie suggestions, and come back later when everyone has watched them to discuss things like favorite characters or scenes.
4. Social Media Groups
It might not sound like a conventional idea, but social media groups can be some of the best online team-building platforms for your remote team.
Why? First, most people have social media accounts these days, as they act as an effective medium to stay in touch with loved ones. Another reason is that they make it easy to share content, including GIFs, memes, pictures, and videos. Lastly, it allows you to know your colleagues outside of work.
That said, you can create a group on Facebook, or any other platform, to use as your virtual water cooler space. Use your group to chat with each other, play games, or create challenges like “snap a picture of your home workspace.”
Gather Your Team Around a Virtual Water Cooler for More Productivity
Working from home does not need to be boring and feel lonely.
Virtual water coolers offer the chance to interact with each other through casual chats and fun games, while providing a host of benefits.
Author: Lando Loic
Source: Lando Loic.” How to Create a Virtual Water Cooler at Your Workplace (and Why You Should)”. Retrieved From https://www.makeuseof.com/create-virtual-water-cooler-at-workplace-why-you-should/
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