The humble water cooler has taken on an iconic position within workplace culture. For several decades now, the cliché about office politics revolving around the water cooler has been a well-known item of corporate culture. There is certainly such a thing as water cooler etiquette, and few people who have worked in an office are unaware of what it is. Moreover, even in light of the remote working trend, the old water cooler isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, many of the latest water products are sold specifically with water coolers in mind. Synergy Science, a health product company specializing in hydrogen and purified water, say that hydrogen water coolers are among their most popular products.
In light of that, the water cooler’s continued place in workplace culture is assured, but what are the unique rules of the water cooler in the workplace? One thing is for sure, the workplace water cooler is a lot more than just a means to allow employees to remain hydrated. In fact, it represents one of the work place environments within which there are definitely rules.
Water Cooler Etiquette
After a long pandemic and many office workers finally returning to the office, the precise way to behave around the water cooler might be a bit fuzzy in the memory. When you are at home and staying hydrated, you don’t need to consider anything besides filling your glass. However, as you fill your little paper cup or water bottle by the water coolers, you are sure to bump into a few fellow employees.
If you’re a bit rusty on water cooler etiquette and how to behave around this central point in the office, here follows some tips to help you out:
Small Talk is Key
Heading to the water cooler isn’t just a way of getting a drink, it’s also a chance to take a little mini break from your work and to enter a more social frame of mind. Accordingly, you should make small talk with whoever is also drawing from the well. Water cooler small talk is one of the tools in your social arsenal, it gives you an opportunity to meet new people in the office, break the ice with people you don’t know well yet, and find out all the latest gossip. Therefore, hone your small talk social skills for these meetings at the water cooler. You never know who you could meet or what you could find out.
Remember You’re Still in Work
But of course, as you break the ice with fellow employees around a water cooler, you should refrain from behaving as if you are at the bar with a glass of beer in your hand rather than a cup of water. While small talk is great, there are some topics that are best left for happy hour.
Bear Sanitation in Mind
Where water coolers are concerned, this means two distinct things. The first is to remember to wash your hands before you start fiddling about with the different parts of the whole office’s common water source. The other thing is to remember not to place your mouth on the spigot. This last one comes with an added social dimension. If you are hoping to make allies and find out gossip around the water cooler, one sure way to fail in this endeavor is to gross people out there and then by drinking directly from the spigot.
It is perhaps funny that this seemingly utilitarian piece of equipment holds such a revered place in workplace culture. But the water cooler is an institution, and it has to be respected.