Distributed teams have been proven to offer numerous benefits, such as increased productivity. Remote employees can reap the benefits of working from home, where reduced stress and fewer distractions lead to improved productivity. By contrast, traditional office environments can prove disruptive, with the sounds of traffic or trivial colleague conversations being a frequent unwelcome distraction. In contrast, remote workers can turn to online water cooler sharing and virtual coffee rooms for invaluable conversations and support. At Works, we have operated with distributed teams for over a decade, giving us first-hand experience of the advantages this setup can provide.
What does the term “virtual water cooler” refer to in a workplace?
In a workplace, a virtual water cooler is an online alternative to the traditional physical water cooler, which serves as a hub for productive conversations between team members. Such informal conversations can have a significant impact on boosting team spirit and general rapport, making it a logical step to create a digital iteration specifically for remote employees. A virtual water cooler allows team members to interact, offer valuable advice, and take much-needed work breaks.
However, what happens when teams are located in different geographical locations?
One common myth about remote workers is that they spend their days in pajamas, have poor social interactions and never leave their computers.
It’s highly probable that remote teams engage in regular communication to ensure productivity and cooperation. Nevertheless, having enough communication alone may not be sufficient for a strong sense of team cohesion. Therefore, it’s important to consider this fact while evaluating your company’s success. It’s not crucial to fret about the absence of communal facilities like cafeterias, water coolers, and coffee shops for remote team members who work from home.
In the modern era, remote companies have access to various methods to facilitate their workflow, from adopting a structured business process to leveraging virtual water coolers. These virtual spaces, such as chat rooms on Slack or Zoom, allow team members to engage in discussions on almost any topic. One example of such is the Bibliophiles! This begs the following question:
What makes online break areas so essential?
One key advantage of remote work is the greater opportunity for social interaction among team members.
As social beings, people have an inherent need for human connection. Building lasting and meaningful relationships entails more than mere small talk; it requires a deep mutual understanding of one another. This yearning for connection is universal and applies to both personal and professional contexts.
Working strenuously doesn’t necessarily stem from the desire for monetary gain alone. It is worth considering working in a workplace where the primary aim is to keep one’s colleagues happy. This can be a daunting task when working remotely, but it is attainable by offering virtual teams designated meeting spaces to promote communication and collaboration. Innovative technology can be utilized to create virtual “Coffee gatherings,” which simulate the effect of a physical water-cooler, enabling colleagues to enhance their teamwork and camaraderie even when geographically dispersed.
Conversations regarding the digital version of the water cooler can invigorate creativity and innovation.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin -two engineering students at Stanford University- founded Google, whereas Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegel and Gordon Bowker established Starbucks. Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard University colleagues brainstormed concepts that eventually culminated into Facebook. This illustrates the significant advantages of having a group of people working together on an idea.
Occasionally, the most innovative ideas can derive from casual conversations. Even remote teams can work together effectively by using virtual water coolers. This promotes collaboration among team members instead of working in isolation, resulting in increased productivity of remote staff. When an employee has a brilliant idea but is uncertain about its implementation, a brief discussion could assist in resolving the matter.
A strong sense of community
Virtual water coolers considerably benefit remote teams by promoting a more humanized approach to work instead of treating employees like machines. Remote workers are a valuable asset to any business, providing vital services, and it is crucial to cultivate this relationship. As a result, investing in virtual water coolers is crucial to ensuring remote teams feel appreciated.
When employees feel a sense of belonging and appreciation for their contributions, they are more likely to stay loyal to an organization. Hence, it is advantageous for businesses to cultivate a culture of collaboration, particularly when employees are located across the globe. One effective strategy to achieve this is by leveraging virtual water coolers, which can help establish a sense of unity and cohesion among staff members. This, in turn, can bolster team morale and productivity, leading to a greater likelihood of success for the organization.
Increase efficiency and output
The well-known saying “less talk, more action” motivates employees to improve their efficiency by minimizing involvement in unimportant tasks. However, studies reveal that workers can only sustain their concentration for approximately two hours and fifty-three minutes, meaning that not all their time is productive. While there are numerous factors that can increase virtual team productivity, employees can still face numerous distractions.
It is a common misconception that more effort leads to better outcomes. Nevertheless, taking breaks to relax and recharge can be advantageous in preventing burnout and enhancing productivity. Allowing colleagues to take a few minutes each day to engage with something humorous or light-hearted, such as a cute puppy meme, can help re-energize employees, leading to an improvement in their performance.
Employ the water cooler effect to enhance teamwork.
As colleagues get to know each other better, initial impressions can often change. Through conversations, video calls, or other forms of communication, individuals can discover more about each other’s hobbies, interests, and preferences. Consequently, relationships can progress from initial unfamiliarity to a trustworthy, mutually beneficial bond.
Psychological studies have confirmed that authentic social interaction is a crucial element in promoting empathy. Those capable of comprehending others’ perspectives are more likely to offer constructive feedback and provide support. This also fosters an atmosphere of candor, allowing for meaningful discussions. Therefore, promoting teamwork among remote workers is an effective approach to cultivate a positive workplace culture where employees feel at ease sharing feedback and learning from each other’s experiences.
Conversations Over the Virtual Water Cooler
Are you searching for new strategies to enhance your remote team’s development? Virtual water coolers have numerous advantages, and finding ways to connect dispersed teams is critical. Below are five online group hangouts that may be helpful:
Monthly gatherings for drinks and conversation
Arranging a monthly video conference with colleagues could be an exceptional approach to establish relationships and reinforce team connections. By choosing a time that suits all time zones, employees can connect in a relaxed setting, enjoying some drinks together. This could be an effective way to experience similar advantages to those encountered during after-hours happy hours.
Planning a group gaming session is hassle-free due to numerous games designed for controller use. To ensure everyone has a good time, consider scheduling a convenient time for everyone to gather digitally. Popular games such as Pictionary can be played over video chats, adding a fun and unique aspect to the classic game.
Below are a few examples of games you can play with your remote teams online:
- The Settlers of Catan
Celebrations for Birthdays
Research has uncovered that remote workers may encounter emotions of isolation and exclusion. This is particularly true for companies whose management follows the “out of sight, out of mind” principle. However, acknowledging important occasions such as birthdays make staff feel appreciated by their employers. To begin with, it is crucial to keep track of everyone’s birthdays and commemorate them accordingly. As the day approaches, schedule a Zoom meeting where everyone sings “Happy Birthday” to the person of honour. Given time zone differences, you might also have a meal together (lunch or dinner).
Slack’s Donut Calls
At Works, interacting with colleagues from other departments is difficult due to the wide range of departments (sales, marketing, recruitment, human resources, etc.). But, we’ve discovered a useful exception in Slack’s Donut feature. This feature includes a bot that randomly schedules meetings between team members and has allowed us to get to know colleagues whom we don’t usually interact with, further boosting our team spirit.
The notion is to establish a weekly Zoom call with your donut partner and talk about topics unrelated to business.
Do you and your friends enjoy going to the movies? Why not plan a movie night every so often? Netflix Parties enable users to host digital movie nights, allowing them to invite others to watch movies and other content together while engaging in discussions and leaving comments.
Wait, There’s More!
Perhaps the most powerful factor is the final one: cultural elements. Forming a productive organizational culture is a pivotal primary step towards attaining commercial success. As employees are driven to produce the best outcomes for the ones they care about, their commitment to their jobs is fueled by the company’s culture.
Virtual water coolers may enrich a company’s culture. Employees are urged to recognize that their role in the organization is more than just generating products. By fostering a positive environment where staff feel at ease and inspired, colleagues can collaborate and assist one another more effortlessly.
At Works, we appreciate the great significance of discovering employees who possess both cultural awareness and expertise. It is a fulfilling experience when the ideal match is found. If you need more details, feel free to contact us.