Why Face-To-Face Water Cooler Moments Will Improve Your Productivity
Once considered the hiding place for employees taking an extended lunch break or catching up on personal gossip, managers are now realising that water coolers are an essential investment for any office. Besides the obvious health benefits – which aren’t to be ignored – research has indicated that the humble water cooler can act as a meeting point, forming a hub of office productivity.
Much like a watering hole on the plains of the Serengeti brings all kinds of animals and exotic creatures together, in an office, the water cooler acts as a hotspot for employee interaction. At the watering hole, lions and zebras meet side by side, both agreeing to mutual peace (however temporary this may be!). In an office environment, the water cooler levels the playing field, where everyone from CEOs to interns can meet to quench their thirst and discuss work. Formal meetings create an unnatural environment for human interaction, and their cold and sterile nature can negatively impact your employee’s ability to respond to questions or actively participate.
Studies have shown that water coolers act as a venue for ‘micro-meetings’, whereby employees interact and exchange information without even realising they’re doing it. In fact, the information exchanged in these informal and quick ‘chats’ is often more valuable than that exchanged in a board-room meeting. This is due to the fact that employees can become anxious in formal environments – productivity and creativity are maximised when your employees are relaxed and stress free.
To some extent, having a water cooler in the office even keeps your employees more active – it’s alarming the number of office workers who don’t leave their desk during the day. Having a water cooler gives them a chance to get away for a minute, stretch their legs and refresh their mind, boosting their productivity.
Approximately 60% of our body’s mass is made up of water, proving it’s essential that we keep well hydrated. In fact, nearly 75% of our brain is made up of water, and research has established a clear link between hydration and our ability to think clearly. If this percentage dips by even a small amount, our brains simply cannot function as efficiently. Scientific research has proven that dehydration has a serious negative affect on our ability to concentrate on tasks. Dehydration has also been proven to impact on our short-term memory, and the more dehydrated we are, the less effectively we are able to recall our thoughts. Have you ever lost your train of thought at work? Perhaps it’s time for a trip to the water cooler.
So what are you waiting for? Give your office a healthy boost of productivity with a new water cooler. Eden Springs is the leading water cooler supplier in the UK. Check out our website to view our extensive range of water coolers and coffee machines.
With temperatures reaching 28 to 30°C across the UK this summer, it’s not surprising that people were reaching for their water bottles. What is surprising is the number of people who allow themselves to become dehydrated before they top up their water supply, especially when the temperatures are much lower.
Everyone knows they need air and water to be able to survive. What you may not know accurately is that while you may be able to go without food for more than a month, even in a relatively cool climate, you will be lucky to last a week without water.
You will take in air naturally and you don’t have to plan to keep your supply topped up, but maintaining the correct level of water means that you have to do something about it, personally.
Water is stored in the human body and an amount is lost every single day. For the benefit of your health and body functions you need to replace this water as you’re losing it. When you increase exercise or do hard work that causes perspiration, you’ll need to replace the lost water before your body realises it is running low on supplies.
What causes dehydration?
When you’ve suddenly felt dehydrated, perhaps your mouth is dry or your body feels tired, you have already reached a high stage of dehydration and you should have dealt with the lack of water going into your body, somewhat sooner.
Apart from the amount of dehydration that occurs naturally as you go about your normal daily activities, where you increase your body’s temperature, your body will require more water immediately. This is why you can notice dehydration more on a hot summer’s day, because if you are combining good quality exercise or hard work in your garden in a heated environment, your dehydration levels will increase far quicker than on a cold winter’s day.
Some people require more water for rehydration. Young children need their water supplies kept high because of their constant movement and their ability to be up and running again after just a few moments’ rest. Pregnant women are a high risk for dehydration and need to maintain a steady level of water because of feeding two people. The elderly are particularly susceptible to a rapid decrease in hydration and can fall ill when their water levels are often kept just a shade above dehydration.
How to recognise dehydration
Being thirsty encourages you to take in water immediately, but in reality this is a sign that you are already too far dehydrated. If your alertness levels fall, you become tired and headaches can take hold, you may also lose some ability to concentrate well because you are already in the first stages of mild dehydration.
There are good reasons why experts suggest that you drink around eight glasses of water a day, which equates to about 1.5 litres of water. Some you will consume directly and you will take another full litre of water into your body’s system through foods.
Healthy people anticipate the need to drink before they become thirsty and head for the bottled water cooler or the fridge. Furthermore, people who wish to eat less so their weight doesn’t increase dramatically can drink a glass of water 15 minutes before a meal so that this rehydrates the body and makes the stomach feel comfortable before the first food arrives.
With the recent heatwave cooking the UK we are reminded of recent water shortages and hosepipe bans. Because of the special local water sources we use Eden customers don’t have any worry about their water dispenser being fully stocked, however drought remains a concern for many other reasons during the Summer.
There have been many years recently where the water utility companies have complained that their reservoirs of water have fallen to dangerously low levels. They have been concerned that if we carried on consuming water at the standard rate, there wouldn’t be enough to go around for all drinking, cleaning and watering purposes throughout the summer season. The threat of a drought is reduced by issuing a hosepipe ban so that our gardens are not watered thoroughly and cars remain dirty through not being cleaned – with hosepipe water.
Can you still use a watering can?
You will need to check with your local water company about the specific details of a water usage ban because some will allow you to continue to use watering cans and buckets so that you can water your garden and clean your car. They find that an acceptable practice compared to using hosepipes or leaving sprinklers on for hours on end.
A hosepipe uses around 900 litres of water per hour whereas a sprinkler uses 600 litres of water per hour. Even when it rains during the drought period, a hosepipe ban often stays in place because it can take weeks or even months to top up the water levels in the reservoirs.
Seven water companies introduced a hosepipe ban during 2012 after complaining that their water levels had fallen to the lowest levels ever after a long two-year dry spell. Conversely, many people who purchase their water through metered facilities can hardly remember a dry spell.
Many observers noted that water companies are losing millions of gallons of their product through leakage and surely if they could solve all of the leaks, there wouldn’t be a need for a water drought and a hosepipe ban.
What happens to your allotment?
While it is clear that you cannot use a hosepipe or sprinkler during the period when they are banned, water companies all issue their own specific rules about what you can water and what you can’t water, during these times.
Where you have spent months and years growing fruit and vegetables in your allotment, it would appear counter-productive to force the hosepipe ban on people’s allotments. Some bans in the past have included allotments while other water companies have suggested that a moderate amount of watering was acceptable.
Do hosepipe bans affect animals?
Animal welfare is extremely important and as you would probably expect, you can continue to fill drinking troughs for animals and clean out the living areas by using a hosepipe. Where you have a pond that requires water so that the fish and other animals can continue to live there, this is an acceptable practice, but again, you should clarify the matter with your local water company and make sure you get the reply in writing.
There are no particular exceptions for disabled people or retired individuals when a hosepipe ban comes in temporarily. Nevertheless, individual water companies are allowed to make their own exceptions to the general rules and often allow people, who are registered as disabled, to continue to use a hosepipe during a drought, where it would be difficult for them to water a garden using a watering can.
Timing your visit to the water cooler could be compared to timing an SAS raid on a combat zone – while providing one of nature’s greatest ways to prevent dehydration, the water cooler can also become the most dangerous place in your office.
The potentially hazardous zone of the water cooler is risky because most people don’t realise that they are entering the world of office gossip.
It’s nice to move away from your everyday tasks and clear your mind by getting up and walking around – as advised in office life. When you collect water from the cooler you will often be placed in a situation where other employees will join you and involve you in not-so-idle chatter.
Agreeing by implication
Even when you don’t agree with what is being said by the gossipers around the water cooler, if you don’t disagree your silence will be taken as consent by all present when the issue is raised at your employee review or during an exit interview.
Here are five simple tips to ensure that your visits to the water cooler are less adventurous:
Think before you speak. Joining in the conversation can put you in a difficult position, especially if you disagree with the general gossip.
Leave the battle zone early. As soon as the gossipers stray into areas of difficult conversation, turn and leave so you are out of the way as soon as possible. But don’t forget your water!
Time your visits better. Ensure, with military precision, that your visits to the water cooler can be conducted when no one else is there.
Only visit when your boss is there. When your boss is at the water cooler there is less chance that unfortunate gossip will take place.
You could even casually put your comments in writing. Rather than being judged by your verbal comments, send an email to the people that were talking around the water cooler stating your exact point of view.
Gossip can be good for you
Some people suggest that office gossip around the water cooler is an essential ingredient for social interaction between employees. It can be argued that humans need face-to-face social communication with other employees during the course of the day’s work to break up the monotony of being stuck behind a desk or a cog in a factory’s machinery.
People are going to talk anyway and it is perhaps better that employees have relatively short conversations around the water cooler, as opposed to sitting down for 15 or 30 minutes with a group of people where the discussions can become markedly worse over a longer period.
Office gossip is going to happen whether you like it or not. Learning how to deal with it is an essential part of office politics and applying the five tips to make sure that you are not deeply involved with any damaging reports finding the ears and the email of high management, is a skill that is best learned quickly.
Good hydration can significantly improve productivity and well being at work, but sometimes it can be hard to get everyone in a company or workplace to think about their drinking habits. How can you help to improve hydration in the office?
Make hydration easy to access: Ensure you have water stations or water coolers installed in highly-used staff areas like receptions, break rooms or kitchens, as well as places with lots of through-traffic where there might not be an opportunity to sit like manufacturing zones or warehouses. It’s especially important to have water close-to-hand if you’re active, and don’t forget to provide bottles or cups for use – there’s no point in water if people can’t actually drink from anything!
Allow for regular breaks: These will allow employees to drink and rest their minds, and this has been proven to improve concentration and productivity.
Remind and remember: It’s easy to forget good hydration practices when you’re busy, so consider pushing the message with promotional campaigns and messages and by showing a good drinking example. A culture of good hydration will last and generate benefits for all in the longer term.
Children spend a majority of their time in school, and their health while they’re there is a concern. It is common knowledge that good hydration through consumption of water is beneficial for a body’s health, with lack of water potentially leading to health problems such as dehydration, constipation, kidney infections and urinary tract infections. Even slight dehydration can cause fatigue, loss or lack of concentration, headaches and lethargy; all of which affect a child’s ability to learn. Are schools educating children about the need for water and providing enough opportunities for children to drink water while they are at school?
Water is an essential nutrient for the human body. The body’s weight is actually significantly made up of water, and every system in the body is dependent on it. The body loses water through respiration, perspiration, and urine and bowel movements, and it is important to resupply with water so that it can perform its normal functions. Children may not be aware of the body’s need for an adequate daily intake of water.
How much water does the body need?
For quite some time the general rule of thumb has been to consume eight 225ml glasses of water on a daily basis. This was a ‘safe’ measurement because the daily intake of water varies on age, size, and location. For example, typical men need to drink more water than women and children because men usually have larger body sizes. The suggested recommendation for children is to consume six to eight 225ml glasses of water on a daily basis.
Is water readily available to school children?
Most schools have water fountains or school water coolers strategically placed in the classrooms and in the hallways, but how often are children allowed to get a drink of water from them? Recent studies have shown that most school children are not drinking enough water at school, and indicate that free water is not readily available to school children during lunch time. This is unfortunate, as children cannot function at their best when they are even mildly dehydrated.
What are the alternatives?
Parents and other advocates can speak to the school boards about making free water readily available to children at school. They can suggest the implementation of more portable or bottled water coolers, mains fed water coolers, pitchers of water, or allowing children to take their own water bottles to school. Parents can educate their children about the importance of adequate water consumption.
If the public are educated and reminded about the need for children to consume an adequate daily amount of water, simple changes can be made and schools can begin providing more opportunities for children to drink water at school. School children will be healthier, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Old fashioned water cooler at the New Orleans Mint 1891
The water cooler has been part of office furnishings for some time. Shortly after its inception the office water cooler became standard in most offices, and that’s where many employees gravitated to when they needed to talk about something urgently and not within earshot of the boss. Let’s take a look at the history of the water cooler and its place in the work environment:
History of the water cooler
A water cooler is, pretty obviously, a device that dispenses cool water, and has changed quickly and dramatically since its origin in the early 1900s. In 1906, Halsey Willard Taylor and Luther Haws invented the first drinking water fountain. In 1911, Haws patented the water faucet. Taylor was a sanitary inspector for the city of Berkeley, which enabled him to observe that school children who consumed contaminated water were likely to be in poor health. This motivated Taylor to invent the drinking water fountain. The drinking water process was changed by The Halsey Taylor Company and Haws Sanitary Drinking Faucet & Co., whose intent was to provide purified water. The drinking faucet invented by Haws was the first drinking faucet installed at the Berkeley school department.
So the drinking fountain was created…but it provided drinking water at room temperature. The water temperature had to be cool to kill microorganisms that could contaminate the water, as water coolers did not have a water treatment method to purify the water. The early process of providing drinking water at a cool temperature entailed using big ice blocks to cool the water – this made the water coolers big, heavy and awkward.
The process of the evolution of the water cooler continued. In a relatively short period of time, the water cooler evolved into a lighter, more compact unit. As technology improved, water coolers were equipped with internal purifying systems.
Water and the environment
With advancing technology water coolers have become more environmentally- and user-friendly, contributing to a growing demand both in work and home environments. If you check out the Energy Star ratings of modern water coolers you will find that they use very little energy, and today’s water coolers allow you to reuse bottles up to 50 times rather than discarding them when empty. You can even use be creative and use bottles for building and art projects at the end of their life (otherwise they’re carefully recycled). Alternatively, plumbed in water coolers take water directly from the mains and mean you don’t have any bottles to deal with at all, and are certainly a step up from the drinking fountains of the 1900s.
The office water cooler
The phrase “Meet me at the water cooler” originated in the workplace as water coolers became commonplace thanks to the significant benefits of good employee hydration. The office water cooler became the “hub” for casual conversation and gossip because it was often located away from cubicles or offices – when an employee would want to chat or gossip, he or she would whisper to another employee, “Meet me at the water cooler” so they could talk in relative privacy.
With the new concepts and designs, the water purity, environmental-friendliness, and affordability of today’s water cooler, some would say that it has become more of a necessity than a convenience. Yes, the water cooler has come a long way from its humble origin. So why don’t you “Meet someone at the water cooler?”
When you think of bottled water coolers, the words ‘cool’ and ‘funky’ don’t often come to mind, but there’s one type of water cooler that’s getting a bit of hipster attention – a retro-style ceramic water cooler.
It looks pretty good (that smooth surface just begs you to run your hands over it) but does it do a good job of keeping your water cool and filtered?
People have been using clay pots for ages to store and cool water, but a study has found that filtering with clay will remove between 95 and 99 per cent of E.coli. Maybe the Aztecs and Egyptians were on to a fairly good thing with this simple technology! But maybe it’s not the best solution for a modern workplace…
How ceramic water filters work
The ceramic water filters work by using clay’s natural properties to filter out bacteria which generally can’t pass through the small pores. The filter sits in the top half, while the bottom half contains the filtered water and is fitted with a tap.
Those who like retro have seen it as a good accompaniment to an Aga and retro sink, and it makes an interesting conversation piece when people are gathered around the kitchen table, but does it come up to modern standards?
Well it needs to be filled – it doesn’t simply connect to a mains supply like a plumbed-in water cooler and you can’t attach standard water cooler bottles, so getting hold of the best-quality spring water is going to be a lot more tricky. And while it keeps the water fairly cool you won’t get the ice-cold water on demand like a modern water cooler. Finally, if you’re after safety and cleanliness the self-cleaning of some of our new models can’t be beaten, and there’re no quarterly sanitisation visits for an old-school ceramic cooler!
Looking back we can see how water coolers have developed in the last few decades, using the latest technology and materials to become extremely energy efficient and environmentally friendly. While ceramic filters are pretty stylish, those looking for a modern and convenient beverage solution are better off sticking to the latest Eden Springs water coolers!
We’re delighted to announce that we’re once again donating 1,000 cases of bottled water to anyone fundraising for charity in the UK following our successful initiative last year.
If you’re an individual charity fundraiser training for or competing in an event you can apply for a case of 12 x 500ml bottles of refreshing Eden Springs delivered to a work address at absolutely no charge. You could be walking in benefit of a local hospice, climbing Kilimanjaro in aid of cancer research or dancing for diabetes support – whatever your cause we’ll help you stay hydrated during your challenge!
Organising a fundraising event or group activity group yourself? Apply for a larger water donation and we’ll also be happy to consider your request on a case-by-case basis.
Helping charities across the UK
Charities that benefited from the initiative include The Children’s Trust, who received water for a range of fundraising events. Angie Turner, Head of Corporate Partnerships (below, left) at the charity, explained to UK Fundraising that “Eden have been fantastic and really help charities around the UK save money on their events.Last year we helped a wide range of individuals and larger events that together raised thousands for fantastic causes.
“We have used the water that was kindly donated at our Sleepwalks around the UK and at our Easter Fair and Summer Fairs. It’s a great initiative and helped us raise more money to help children with profound disabilities around the UK.”
£30 donation to your charity with water coolers
In addition Eden will also continue to donate £30 for every water cooler installation resulting from a water donation to a charity event. If you’re involved in an event and help to promote the great range of bottled water cooler and mains-fed water cooler options Eden Springs provide you can then feel great knowing that any water cooler orders generated have helped to contribute to helping those in need.