Creating A Virtual Water Cooler For Your Remote Workers

Creating a Virtual Water Cooler For Your Remote Workers

As an aftermath of the pandemic, most companies are heading towards a hybrid workplace where most employees will rotate in and out of the office. A recent PwC survey revealed, “While less than one in five executives say they want to return to the office as it was pre-pandemic, 87% of employees say the office is important for their top-rated needs – collaborating with team members and building relationships.”

David Johnson, a principal analyst at Forrester, said, “One of the things that’s interesting about working remotely is that a lot of those social cues and experiences are vastly different; they have to almost be manufactured.”

Indeed, casual social interactions have taken a backseat during the pandemic, with remote employees desperately in need of some team bonding. And, why is that? There is no scope for “going on coffee breaks” or “discussing the latest Netflix show at the water cooler” in the digital workplace.”

Lee Gordon, VP of Global Communications and Public Relations at Brunswick Corporation, once said, “One of the many things I miss about being in the office is accidentally running into people at the coffee machine. Those chance encounters provide tremendous insight into what my colleagues were working on or what their kids did over the weekend.”

Informal conversations with colleagues also allow ideas to cross-pollinate, i.e., members of different teams can talk about their current projects, brainstorm ideas, and come up with new ways of doing work. In fact, 80% of the successful ideas implemented by teams are born out of informal conversations.

The question that arises then is: “Is it possible to recreate an informal environment that stimulates discussion and allows employees to converse on both work-related and personal topics in the digital setup?”

Let’s find out how.

Virtual Water Cooler for Your Remote Workers

What is a virtual water cooler?

A virtual water cooler, an online version of the traditional water cooler in your organization, offers an informal, collaborative digital environment for employees to break silos, discuss the latest news and trends, stay updated on relevant content, and access subject-matter experts (SMEs) who can assist them with current tasks/projects.

What are the advantages of a virtual water cooler?

1. Enhances employee engagement and productivity

Engaged employees feel empowered and are willing to make changes and contribute towards the goals of the organization. If employees don’t feel engaged, workplace productivity plummets drastically.

The Boston Consulting Group surveyed 12,000 remote workers and found, “Employees who were satisfied with their social connectivity were two to three times likely to have maintained or improved productivity during the pandemic.”

Respondents reported they miss social gatherings at work and the ability to spontaneously walk to a co-worker’s desk and discuss an issue. Making social interactions possible through virtual water coolers boosts engagement and helps employees stay more productive at work.

2. Provides a sense of purpose at work

Social connectivity reduces employee burnout and gives them the required recognition.

The ability to walk up to a colleague’s desk and say, “Hey, nice job on this project.” helps them know how they contribute and add value to the organization and motivates them to do better.

A virtual water cooler allows the organization to collate and showcase all the achievements, rewards, and “mentions” of an employee on a single collaborative platform, adding to their sense of esteem and encouraging them to work harder on future projects.

3. Improves collaboration and communication

The virtual water cooler allows employees to communicate and collaborate with people they may not know.

Connecting with people who have the knowledge and expertise on a particular subject saves a lot of productive time since employees can easily talk to people who can help them with the tasks at hand.

How can Acuvate help create a virtual water cooler for your remote workers?

At Acuvate, we help clients deploy an autonomous SharePoint intranet solution called Mesh 3.0 that brings together organization-wide apps, tools, and content under a single platform.

The advanced capabilities of Mesh 3.0 that help organizations create a virtual cooler environment include the following:

  • AI-driven content personalizersAI-powered filtering of news and information. Recommendation of subject matter experts (SMEs) based on the user’s role, activities, interests, preferences, geography, etc.
  • Internal communication tools and Collaboration tools – To share daily updates, employee achievements, upcoming events, and have discussions on the latest news.
  • Collaboration Sites: Mesh enables organizations to set up collaboration sites and virtual communities, be it for departments, projects, or teams to help employees share knowledge, discuss work events, or have casual conversations on topics with like-minded individuals (for example, sports like football).
  • WorkBench: A one-click content creation and editing tool that allows employees to share their thoughts and opinions through blogs and articles easily.
  • Idea management system called “Wave” – A platform to capture, collaborate, and evaluate ideas that help in business transformation.
  • Polls/Surveys: Provide feedback and contribute to decision-making by sharing your opinion in polls/surveys

To know more about Mesh 3.0, please feel free to schedule a personalized consultation with our experts.