When chance meets water coolers are produced
In the wake of the 1918 flu pandemic, demand for water coolers went through the roof. Suddenly, bottled-water sales jumped to more than 15.7 billion gallons, surpassing carbonated soft drinks as the world’s largest beverage category.
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While the flu pandemic made people think twice about drinking water, it also inspired some businesses to rethink their water-cooler practices. Edward Ferguson, chief sustainability officer at BlueTriton Brands, which makes Poland Spring, Deer Park, and Arrowhead, says the company is focusing on building its business model around reusable bottles and filling stations.
King, meanwhile, says Culligan is focusing on building a strong relationship with customers by offering service and lease promotions and changing the frequency of deliveries and pickups. The company also shifted advertising dollars to Amazon and other online platforms.
With so much emphasis on mental health and wellness, many companies have been rethinking their corporate cultures and ways to engage employees. That includes fostering connections through virtual spaces that allow employees to connect even when they’re not in the office.
This is especially important in a remote workforce where employees are spread across the globe and don’t have immediate access to colleagues who live near them. A virtual water cooler is one of the best ways to encourage remote employees to connect in an informal, supportive way that doesn’t distract them from their work.
Using a chat platform like Slack is an ideal way to create an environment that allows your team to connect outside of the office. It allows them to have a private space to interact and can make it easy for them to schedule non-work interactions as they’re convenient.
You can also create different channels for different interests and hobbies, such as a writer’s room, a gamer’s lounge, a pet corner, or a working parents’ hangout. These spaces will allow your team to talk about their personal lives and share fun activities with each other without worrying about breaking confidentiality rules.
If you want to build a strong, cohesive team, it’s critical to keep your remote employees connected. A virtual water cooler is a great way to help your team feel a part of a larger community, and it can even improve employee retention.
In a recent study, researchers found that implementing a virtual water cooler in an internship program improved interns’ relationships with their managers. The study focused on five weeks of interactions, but it’s not hard to imagine that over a longer period, a water cooler could have positive effects on employees.
As with most workplace interactions, the key to success is finding a way to make these virtual conversations feel like real-life ones. If you can create a sense of camaraderie and a positive environment for your team to engage with each other, you’ll see a boost in employee morale and motivation to be more productive at work.
To get the most out of your virtual water cooler, be sure to plan fun games and other interactions that are both social and informative. This will help your staff build bonds with their peers and learn more about each other’s interests. You can even turn these interactions into competitions, which can encourage more conversation.