When the entire team was in the office, short conversations in the breakroom or by the printer were common and helped you get to know your coworkers. Maybe you’ve heard these quick chats called “water cooler moments.” Water cooler moments are a great opportunity to simply hang out with one another and get to know coworkers on a personal level. You may have had many water cooler moments with clients as well when you met up for lunch or happy hour to discuss upcoming projects.
Now that many offices are working remotely or have implemented a flexible work-from-home model, these personal and impromptu moments to connect are far and few between. Here are a few ways to make water cooler moments with coworkers or clients possible when working remotely.
Incorporate Casual Conversation into Your Routine Meetings
Add time for water cooler moments into your regularly scheduled meetings. You can even add structure to these casual conversations by planning a specific question to ask in advance, or noting to catch up on the client’s recent vacation that they took. Taking the time to ask these light-hearted, personal questions allows you to build meaningful relationships with coworkers and clients. It allows you to understand their thought processes and patterns, which can make work more fun for everyone.
During these water cooler moments, take note of any personal status updates a coworker or client shares with you. Building strong relationships is possible even when working remotely! Remembering that a coworker was going to a specific state for vacation allows you to follow up and ask specific questions about their time off. Or maybe you notice that your client’s office has a different décor. Make personal connections whenever you get the chance to maintain a positive work environment, even when you’re at home.
There are many tools to make water cooler moments even more impromptu than during a meeting. Utilizing tools like Slack and chat features tied to your email or video conference software are easy ways to quickly say hello to a friend at the company. These features can also be used for quick work updates, so whenever you have to share a status update on a project, make sure to ask about the coworker’s kickball league or favorite sports team. These conversations don’t have to be long, but are meaningful and help build team comradery.
There are many different types of professional online messaging tools your firm or association can use to stay connected. If you don’t know of a tool that your organization uses, reach out to the HR or IT department. Maybe there is one that you need to get connected to, or they would be able to set one up for the entire team to take advantage of.
The best part of in-office water cooler moments is that you had the opportunity to connect with coworkers that you didn’t work with directly, or you could schedule regular hangouts with a client. When we work from home, that opportunity to connect with different teams or departments is often missed. If you’re like us at Ingenuity, you love forming relationships with people. Don’t be afraid to admit that casual conversations in the middle of the work day is something that can turn your day around! If this is you too, invite a coworker or client to have a quick 15-minute phone or video call with you over coffee.
These conversations aren’t impromptu, but can certainly be something to look forward to. Just because so many of us are working from home doesn’t mean that we don’t have to see one another. Reach out and send the invitation to connect. You may be surprised at how many of the people you enjoyed talking with near the printer in the office will want to chat remotely.
Keep the Conversation Light
Quick chats in the breakroom were fun because they were refreshing. The topic of work didn’t come up often. It was a little bit of a break that allowed you to go back to your task at hand with a new perspective and cleared mind. Light conversations also helped you form long-lasting relationships with clients.
Keep the same strategy in place when you decide to send someone an online message, invite them to a one-on-one video call or when incorporating water cooler moments into your meetings. Allow this time to be a little break from the reality of your work day.
By taking a break, you gain momentum on your project when you get back to your desk. Your clients also benefit from the break, and the entire office benefits by you having built stronger coworker relationships. Relationships that you form through these impromptu conversations will allow you to work better with coworkers and clients. Not only will you work better with one another, but work will be more fun, more conversational and the finished project results will be collaborative and successful. Implement more water cooler moments into your work-from-home routine and reap the benefits!