I write this with all due respect to, and mainly for the attention of, owners of those huge colourful and ecologically-friendly water bottles – especially if they have a team as well as a water bottle.
You are missing the point of the water cooler.
Your company has not paid a company thousands of pounds a year to install and maintain a snazzy machine with blue lights, that can produce water at different temperatures, with and without bubbles, just so that you can stay at your desk longer and have email conversations with your team and colleagues.
The water cooler is there for you to visit at regular intervals as a way of precipitating those casual, chance encounters that result in a whole variety of benefits.
You find out who put the mysterious bollards in the car park and why. You hear the names of your colleague’s children, what is for lunch in the company canteen, the highlights of the latest market research, who came in early to save the.
You hear about what people are thinking – whether it has anything to do with your job or not - what they’re worried about, who’s arrived and needs to meet you. Who’s going and needs to talk to you before they leave.
You get the scoop on the strategy ideas for the 2020 social media campaign. You get to thank the person in IT who fixed your computer last week whilst you were on holiday in Devon.
You get some quick feedback about how you ran the team meeting Monday –surprisingly good as it turns out – you’d been worried that people hadn’t been too happy about what you said… turns out they were just thinking quietly.
A person gets to ask you a question and they’re relieved by your response. They can now move something on. You save someone 10 minutes writing you a complicated email and you save yourself 15 minutes responding to it because they can tell you face-to-face and get your response on the spot.
And, you can get a drink at the same time. Still or sparkling?