The (Remote) Water Cooler

As many companies are transitioning to remote work for the first time it is normal to feel overwhelmed. Getting used to the social norms of working from home can be odd for some individuals: no group lunches, desk visits, mid-day games, and “water cooler talk.”

Being remote for the last 5 years, we’ve missed the serendipitous moments and random conversations that take place at an office. We have done our best to fill the void with different Slack channels, games, Zoom calls, and offsites (more on that in a different post). Being able to have personal conversation outside of work is vital to any startup culture. Being able to translate that conversation when working from home is just as important.

Out of the different strategies and ideas we have tried to mimic office communication, the one that has stood the test of time is the #watercooler Slack channel. Our #watercooler Slack channel is exactly what it sounds like — a chance to take a break from work-related tasks to discuss hobbies, interest, food, and current events.

We all like to see our respective Slack channels light up, but there is an added excitement when the #watercooler channel lights up (especially later in the day). We do not have hard set guidelines for what should be posted in the #watercooler channel but it generally consists of the following:

  • Food/what we ate — Pictures or recipes for what we are cooking at home/eating at restaurants. We all love to eat at Visible so this is big for us.
  • Random videos/pictures/stories from our day to day lives — For example, a current event or something big that may be happening in someone’s respective city/neighborhood/etc.
  • Travel and Hobbies — Being a remote company, a lot of us spend a good amount of time in different locations. We love to share pictures and stories from our time in new places.
  • Work Inspiration — This is also where we share examples and inspiration of something cool we see a different company doing. Anything from a new product feature to an intriguing marketing email.
  • Fun Stories — If someone runs into a fun story, stat, or fact they run into online, we tend to share it in #watercooler.

While there is no substitute for in person conversation, being able to take a break and have casual conversation with co-workers is a must when working from home. Being fully remote ourselves, it has allowed us to get to know each other as if we were working in an office. For those working from home for the first time, give the #watercooler a try and let us know what you think!

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