Why we decided we needed to make time for non-work-related chit-chat in our calendars. Every week.
Did you know that the light-hearted talks you have around the office water cooler or coffee machine are actually a very valuable part of your workday? By that, we don’t mean that it’s valuable only in the sense that you enjoy it, although that is nice too. Water cooler conversations are actually a place where your brain can take a break from its usual patterns and creativity flows freely. Also, it’s important for building a solid company culture.
30 minutes of magic
That’s why the Mevo team has blocked out 30 minutes in their calendars every week to make sure we allow some time to talk about everything from personal hair disasters to presidential debates.
The traditional water cooler conversation is a spontaneous act, a brief and friendly exchange of weather reports, weekend plans, or thoughts the latest tv show craze with a co-worker you meet while out and about somewhere within the office space. The very nature of this conversation suggests that it’s not planned for, and neither parties have an agenda (unless you’re stalking your office crush or are looking for an opportunity to make sure your boss knows you have some excellent insights on something).
But when you’re a small team who works from different locations, these moments don’t magically occur. Unfortunately. The video meetings you have are all work-related, so when are you going to let your colleagues know about your latest home decoration project or the fact that you beat your personal record on a 5k run? When are you going to let your minds spin down a trail of thoughts, ending up in something that could be an excellent improvement of your product – or just a complete collection of nonsense?
Agenda: Let loose
The point is, this is time well spent, no matter the outcome. So every Wednesday after lunch, we gather in our video conference room with an agenda. We do need a certain structure to make sure everyone is involved and shares something from their own life. That’s why we have a topic prepared, something to get our minds going. Examples of topics we’ve covered are:
- What would you choose as a line of work, if you were 15 years old today?
- What’s the difference between a taco, a burrito, enchiladas, and fajitas?
- What was your favorite hobby growing up?
According to research, we will go back to our desks more productive and happy. We get to know each other in new ways. And sometimes, although admittedly not very often, we even think of something clever, business-wise.