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Boosting Remote Work Connections: Creating Water Cooler Moments

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

This weekly twork* is part of our series to make work better together - get it direct to your inbox.

How to improve connections when working remotely with virtual water cooler moments
Photo Pexels by Artem Podrez

In today’s digital age, remote work & hybrid work have become a core part of the working week for so, so many people and we all know it definitely has its perks. Comfier attire, zero commutes and in many cases greater flexibility for employees. In Ireland around 32% of people spend some or all of their time working remotely each week, yet so many find it hard to strike the right balance that works for them.

In our latest Twork we’re exploring the ‘hybrid paradox’, where we can really enjoy the benefits of working from home but miss those impromptu office chats. Those moments around the water cooler where we can shoot the breeze and really connect with the people we work with. Where we can see someone in their full form, not just their head and shoulders. We can read so much more from their body language and expressions than we ever can online. There’s an energy in person that’s pretty tough to replicate online and we miss it.

The Hybrid Dilemma: Comfort vs. Connection

Remote work offers comfort, it offers uninterrupted opportunity for deep work without office chatter or a tap on the shoulder just as you are getting engrossed in something. But it often lacks that personal connection we thrive on.

We want to balance both worlds where we can have comfort and connection, but often it can be difficult to figure out just how to do it. From our experience, in a remote setting, you need to be much more intentional about creating a network and connections with others as it is less likely to happen spontaneously.

A Better Work Twork - Creating Virtual Water Cooler Moments

Water cooler moments, moments to connect and meet new people or building your network - whatever is lacking, this weeks twork is about creating an experiment that will help build those connections.

We know that creating connections can be a challenge for teams and companies working either fully remotely or within a hybrid setting. So, how can we recreate those networking moments in the virtual world?

1. Online coffee chats

Ever heard of "OS Coffee" at The Ready? It's a concept we love here at A Better Work and involves a casual, optional virtual meetup where team members can discuss topics they care about.

Everyone suggests topics on anything, vote on them, and chat for five minutes. After five minutes, simply give a thumbs-up or down to continue or move on. It's a great way to meet colleagues you might not otherwise connect with. This is a fantastic way of creating an environment for people to connect and because it’s not mandatory, it can lead to spontaneous, long-lasting relationships with people they’ve never met before. Or even just a nice break from brain intense work.

2. Solving Challenges Together

Another great way to foster connection is by taking a business challenge and bringing a cross-functional group of people together to solve it. Because it’s cross-functional it encourages collaboration and means that people can build relationships and develop connections with people they otherwise may never have met.

How about the Bureaucracy busters, a culture council, customer delight delegation? Ensure the group is set up for success with clear purpose and authority to progress.

3. Get Social with Clubs

Consider starting virtual clubs like book clubs, movie clubs or documentary club, or some other topic where people can come together to discuss something they have in common.

The pandemic near killed all our enthusiasm for extra curricular activities online but occasional fun ways to get together that are well facilitated are brilliant for building connection, finding common ground and reinforcing networks beyond work-related topics.

Adapt to Your Team's Needs

Remember, what works for one team may not work for another. Consider your team's preferences and what they enjoy and adapt accordingly. Remember, remote work doesn't have to mean isolation. But we need to be intentional about creating meaningful moments of connection.

So, whether you try OS Coffee, form problem-solving teams, enjoy some social clubs or design your own experiment be sure to look out for your hybrid and remote colleagues. Try to understand their needs and be intentional about creating opportunities to improve their ability and reach to network and connect.

Let us know how these ideas work for you. Here's to making remote work better for everyone! 🌟

If you are struggling to create a connected remote/hybrid team, we can help you. Reach out here. We would love to chat to you and see how we can help.

Let’s make work better together.

Michelle Wallace


A Better Work


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