Where to put the Water Cooler?
Drinking sufficient water is critical for our health and maintaining good performance on the job. Water coolers are one of the simplest and most cost-effective methods of ensuring that employees have access to the water they need. For optimal benefits from the cooler, there are two approaches when it comes to finding the right place to put it.
The first is the practical approach: studies show that people will drink more water when the cooler is visible and close at hand. On average, for every group of 10 employees there should be a cooler nearby that is easily accessible. Proximity plays a vital role in reminding people to drink water regularly.
The second method is the strategic approach. Organization development and business consultants all point to the benefits of maintaining direct human interactions when working in the Internet-age. Work modes today find many people travelling, and most of us rely on email and voice-mail. As a result, employees can feel cut-off from the organization and loose the benefits of spontaneous meetings and face-to-face communications. Office designers are putting increased emphasis on casual meeting areas that encourage people to stop and chat, exchange ideas, and collaborate face to face in an inviting, comfortable environment. The water cooler has become the focal point of such areas, fostering increased levels of collaboration in organizations.
By combining the practical and strategic methods, companies can optimize the benefits that the water cooler can bring to a company, improving the well-being of individual employees, and enhancing the company's productivity as a whole.
- Invite a colleague to meet you at the water cooler and solve an issue together.
- Create a spontaneous meeting in the lounge area with someone who often travels.
- Say “Hello” to someone you don't know. Meeting colleagues and exchanging ideas builds mutual understanding and increases cooperation across the organisation.
- Have an informal meeting with a well-known customer or partner in the lounge as an alternative to a meeting room.
- Encourage corridor conversations by the water coolers with elbow height tables, small white boards and pads and pencils readily available to facilitate discussions.
- Work with notebook PCs in lounge areas from time to time as an alternative to using office zones.
- Give yourself a professional pause that's a real productivity boost by drinking water and doing some quick exercises to refresh your body and your mind.
- Celebrate a business success with a get-together in the lounge area and contribute to building the company culture.