The Water Cooler Effect

Posted on August 31, 2018


As our Internal Communications Manager, Claire Best knows a thing or two about employee engagement and keeping the conversation going. This week, she’s been telling us about the Water Cooler Effect. What’s that all about? Luckily for you, Claire explains all, and reveals some of the ‘interesting’ chat that we have round our own water cooler at Clearbox. On you go, Bestie…

The Water Cooler Effect is a phenomenon, occurring when employees at work gather around the office water cooler and chat. Pretty simple, really. 

Studies have shown that when people take a break from work-related tasks and discuss their hobbies, interests and other random topics, this can have a hugely positive impact on the business. 

Improved company culture, better employee engagement, greater collaboration and increased productivity are just a few of the reasons you should encourage non work-related chat (within reason - @Claire Hamilton)

These type of chats can help your business grow and build employee relationships - so you should encourage it. When you allow employees to interact and converse about non-work-related topics, everyone benefits.

There are 10 or 11 people in our office at any one time so water cooler chat tends to take place quite naturally here (and as an FYI, never happens round the actual water cooler). 

Aside from the usual ‘how was your weekend?” or “what did you do last night?”, the topic range can be quite varied, and often random and bizarre. We thought we’d share some of the chats we've had - just in the last month or so. 

Clearbox Water Cooler Chat 

TV Habits

A common topic across most businesses, with the continued rise in popularity of online streaming services. 

This month, the office has been buzzing with lots of chat about the current hit, ‘The Staircase.’

We’ve been debating on Michael Peterson’s innocence/guilt and of course the owl theory. Our other current obsessions are… 

John

“I’ve just finished All or Nothing: Manchester City on Amazon Prime Video. It’s a docu-series that follows the self-proclaimed greatest team to ever win the Premier League (which they are absolutely not, by the way) through the journey of their title-winning season. 

“It’s brilliant TV - especially the bit where Pep talks about Arsenal being their most dangerous when they’re 3-0 down and revealing that he can’t understand why we play with six or seven players in such advanced positions. Miss you, Arsene.”

Nat

“I finished The Good Wife not that long ago, and I was really late to the Gossip Girl party. Recently, I’ve been all about the true crime stuff - The Staircase, Manhunt: UnaBomber and The Keepers.”

Note from the editor: Natalie is usually all rainbows and cups of tea, but clearly built for that real crime life when it comes to TV habits).  

Lauren

“I’m currently working my way through the list of murder documentaries!” (There’s a theme here!) “I started The Staircase and Game of Thrones. I also watch Suits - all caught up so far though!”

What we’re having with our cuppa

Quite a basic topic, but a regular one in our office. 

I’d say biscuit choice and preference comes up a good 3 to 4 times a day. A firm favourite at 69 High Street is the frankly underrated chocolate digestive. Great dunk-ability (is that a word?) Rocky biscuits, Twixes, Wagon Wheels and Toffeepops also rank highly on our list. 

When our resident New Yorker Claire Hamilton has been home to see family, we get treated to some sugary American sweet treats - this week we've had Twinkies, Twizzlers and Swedish Fish. DELICIOUS.

Podcasts

Another regular chat topic in our office - a few of our folks travel for at least an hour to get to the office in the morning and podcasts are a great way to pass the time. 

Here's what we're enjoying at the moment: 

John

“I’m really into They Walk Among Us - it’s a true crime podcast that mixes grizzly cases you’ve heard of and those that you haven’t. Based on the topic of conversation in this office, I’ll guess that murder and crime will feature heavily in our recommendations, so I’ll add some light relief. Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness - the legend from Queer Eye. Check out his episode on Brexit. LOL.”

Nat

“I’m currently loving the At Home With Podcast by Lily Pebbles and Anna Newton.” 

Claire H

“Living up to a stereotype here, but whatever. I’m a religious New York Times listener - it’s called The Daily.” 

The Random, Weird and Wonderful

These are my favourite type of water cooler chats, those that take place without any prior warning or relevant context. These type of conversations are often when you learn the most about your colleagues. 

Some of our recent topics have included: 

What colour represents us (try this one in your office, it’s proper LOLS when people give their reasons for choosing that particular colour for you)

Zodiac signs and what they mean (or don't if you're like John and think the whole idea is ****)

Being born in the wrong body (don’t ask)

Judaism 

Dogs, dogs, and more dogs (and everything about them)

What animal we would be… another interesting one

Barbara Streisand 

Childhood nostalgia 

And that’s just a snippet. 

At Clearbox, we genuinely believe that happy people create great work and that’s the culture we encourage every day. 

We like to balance hard work with fun, and we really do work hard. So we think that taking a few minutes to have those conversations with your peers is so beneficial - for us, it helps us understand each other better, feel more connected, and builds a stronger team.