Water cooler conversations are informal, organic conversations that occur between coworkers in the workplace. These conversations may take place in your office kitchen, with the person who sits across from you, the person you pass in the hall and maybe even at your office water cooler! So what happens when our workforce is forced to work remote? In today's Thrive, we will discuss the Virtual Water Cooler and how it can enhance the virtual culture in your team or organization!
Water cooler chats have multiple benefits, especially in trying times like now. The chats can improve collaboration and productivity among employees, promote healthier staff and bring people together.
Use the tips below to enhance your organization's virtual water cooler!
Coffee Dates - Create some time at the start of your remote work day to drink coffee or tea over video with coworkers, just like you would if you were in the office. At Evans, we host a company-wide "Coffee and Chat" on Friday mornings.
Create a Virtual Water Cooler Channel - At Evans Consulting, we have created a Channel on our company's Microsoft Teams page to share and talk about non work-related items. The conversations include funny videos employees came across online, wellness tips and tricks, and fun conversations about which employee has the most creative Zoom backgrounds!
Regular Check Ins - Since it is easier to feel disconnected while working remotely, scheduling frequent check ins with your team and employees can help them feel connected. Leave time at the beginning or end of your check in to see how employees are doing from a social and wellness perspective. At Evans, some employees leave 10 minutes at the end of a meeting to stretch and prepare for the next, as if they would in person!
Virtual Happy Hours - Host a virtual happy hour at the end of the day to check in with coworkers you may not interact with on a daily basis, and play a game of Heads Up! At Evans, we typically have a happy hour at the end of our monthly staff meetings. Since we are all working remotely now, our virtual happy hours have more attendees than the ones in person!
The new normal is evolving and so should we. While change can be difficult, it is important to stay connected, and to continue to create connections in our digital world! By attending a coffee chat or a happy hour and by communicating with those in similar situations, we can bring about a sense of normalcy and routine to our new reality!
Apply the Five!
Now that you've got some tools in your toolkit, take the quiz below to learn more about your communication skills!
Once you have your results, use the tips in this Thrive to enhance your virtual communication skills, look for areas of improvement and plan a fun check in or coffee chat with coworkers or your team!
Learn How Evans Thrives!
What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?
Meet Gina Bryan!
If you are a creature of habit like me, you knew early on that establishing a routine to adjust to working from home for the foreseeable future would be paramount to your success. Sure, the routine at home would not completely mirror my routine when I would head into the Evans or client office space, but I knew it would help me transition and combat “Quarantine fever.”
Keeping my alarm clock set to the same time was the first step, and I would use my “commute time” to catch up on the news, respond to personal emails and make breakfast. While this new routine helped me prepare for the workday, I quickly realized that I was still missing interactions with colleagues that were not focused on work topics.
“Water cooler” conversations are spontaneous interactions and welcomed distractions when you need to take a break. Working remotely removes those fortuitous moments when you cross paths with someone you have not seen in a while and decide to catch up on your way to grab another coffee. Therefore, as Evans' social committee co-chair, I decided to shift our bi-monthly Evans DC lunch meetup to a virtual gathering opportunity. My intention was to provide a virtual space where Evans Nation can take a moment to join the Zoom call and have those water cooler conversations. You never know who you are going to run into there, but one thing is guaranteed: we’re all in this together and semi-spontaneous interactions can help fuel the rest of your day!
Until Next Time...
Evans’ People Team
(Mahi Chopra, Kaitlin Hurley and Nicole Anderson)