How to Create “Water Cooler” Moments for Remote Employees

by Michael Haberman on October 5, 2017 · 1 comment


Try to create these type of conversations with your remote employees.

Today’s post is written by Jessica Globle, a Media Relations Specialist at Walker Sands Communications. I recently did a webinar for BLR and talked about remote workers. Managers that are not used to working with remote workers would do well do heed Jessica’s tips. The isolation of remote workers is real and managers can head off issues by using these “water cooler” moments. My wife works remotely and she has a boss who has a “Java with John” call once a week. 

Relationships are important

Building a relationship with your manager and coworkers is important for any employee, but especially remote workers concerned about being forgotten or isolated. By taking the time to establish personal relationships between in-office and remote employees, teams can improve project communication and establish a high-level of trust.

Luckily establishing connections between remote and in-office employees doesn’t require that much more effort. In fact, it can be as simple as taking the first few minutes of a conference call to ask how everyone is doing and if they have any fun weekend plans. Or if you know a coworker recently went on vacation, making a note to ask about his or her trip.

Team collaboration

Team collaboration and instant messaging apps also give remote workers the opportunity for random conversations they traditionally would’ve missed out on by not being in the office. Use these apps to start and keep up informal conversations with coworkers. For example, try sending funny links or work-related information you think they might find helpful. While some may be hesitant to use emojis, GIFs or other media, these tools can help conversations feel less stiff and easily communicate tone, whether it be sarcasm, excitement or cynicism.

Other tactics like jotting down a coworker’s birthday in your calendar so you can remember to send a personal note, can go a long way. Even changing the photo or avatar on your web conferencing profile can break the ice and let your personality show through.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mark de Leeuw October 5, 2017 at 11:07 am

Thanks for sharing Jessica! To me, this starts with hiring the right people for your remote company and onboarding them efficiently. A specific example is Hotjar, who decided to run their company remotely. They emphasise their remote culture in the hiring process and work hard to create these water cooler moments. You can read all about their culture and hiring process in this article: http://bit.ly/2y3sKRh

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