4 Ways To Make Time For ‘Watercooler Conversations’ In The Hybrid Work Setting

from Fast Company

A critical part of filling your personal and work lives with happiness is cultivating strong relationships.

Some of these ties can be deep, meaningful, and longer-term relationships, but they can also be more casual and occasional connections, which are still effective at lifting moods and helping you feel satisfied in life.

Research at the University of British Columbia found that when people had greater numbers of acquaintances (even if they were more distant connections), they were happier. Further, studies by the University of Chicago found even small talk with strangers contributed to happiness. In other words, social relationships are great, but it’s also possible to benefit from social interactions.

Work is an important context for increasing your social interactions. If you’ve curtailed your visits to your regular exercise class or scheduling more deliveries of your groceries and basic needs, your opportunities for casual interactions are likely reduced. To fill this gap, your work colleagues may be an important source to enhance your social well-being.

Whether you’re working remotely or at an office alongside coworkers, there are ways to create opportunities for connection through casual conversation.

More here.

Posted in Careers, Education and tagged .


  1. This article is dead right on how conversation and acquaintances generate better work results. The article said, “Research at the University of British Columbia found that when people had greater numbers of acquaintances (even if they were more distant connections), they were happier. Further, studies by the University of Chicago found even small talk with strangers contributed to happiness. In other words, social relationships are great, but it’s also possible to benefit from social interactions.”

    I like to make connections to sports. Something that happened very recently connected to this. Last year in January, James Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets. At the time, Harden was a top ten player in the league and was joining two other superstars in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The Nets had the best roster on paper out of any team in the league and were the favorites to win the championship. Yesterday, James Harden was traded from the Nets to the Philadelphia 76ers, never winning a championship with the Nets. Even though the Nets looked amazing on paper, they failed. All three of the superstars dealt with injuries in the 2 seasons together. The three only played 16 games together. Irving and Harden reportedly had problems with each other due to Irving’s vaccination status.

    The player Harden was mainly traded for, Ben Simmons, also had problems with his former team. After a bad performance in the playoffs, Simmons cited mental health problems and hasn’t played at all this season. Now, Simmons will join the Nets as soon as he can.

    The point I’m getting at is that numbers and stats could look great on paper, but if the team can’t work together and learn to like each other, they’ll never succeed.

  2. For most college students after they graduate, they are pursuing potential employers. After landing a job, you feel that you have accomplished some goals and all your hard work has paid off. No matter the work setting, individuals have to spend a significant part of their everyday life with colleagues in their profession. They have to make new social relationships and create new connections within their current community.
    Some ways that this article mentions to make conversation in a hybrid work setting include staying accessible for your coworkers, following up on prior conversations, listening to each other’s struggles, and organizing opportunities to be more involved. After graduating from college, you enter the real world with no guidance and must pave your own path to success. Having great social relationships and happy work colleagues will help you limitlessly.
    I like to identify common hobbies and leisure activities to develop a stronger relationship with my peers. Some of my favorite hobbies that many people seem to also share are watching movies, listening to the latest music, and participating in outdoor activities.
    One discussion I would incorporate to create small talk with my colleagues would be the newly released Spiderman movie, No Way Home. It received highly positive reviews from many critics and is the sixth most grossing film of all time. After Spiderman’s identity is revealed, he asks Dr. Strange to cast a spell to make everyone forget who he is. When Peter requests alterations, the spell becomes distorted. Soon, villains from different universes travel to fight Spiderman. With his friends, Peter eventually captures all of them and tries to cure them before he sends them home. Some of the villains betray him and his aunt dies. Spiderman wants to give up but is convinced by Spidermans from different universes to keep going on. They cure all the villains and Dr. Strange casts a spell that sends everyone home. Nobody remembers that Peter is Spiderman and the movie ends. This was one of the most widely acclaimed movies in a long time and received numerous awards. Movies are a convenient way to make conversation and in addition an excellent manner to meet up in person outside of work to strengthen your social relationships.

  3. The Covid-19 pandemic has advanced society in countless ways. People are utilizing technology which should not have become common place until the future. Work and school have evolved to become more flexible toward allowing people to choose where they want to complete their work. The online option to complete work and school has become normalized. Unfortunately, there is one big drawback to remote and hybrid work and school. People have become more antisocial then ever before. Nowadays, not only are people glued to their phones and refusing to talk with others, but they might not even choose to leave their home. The convenience of allowing everything to be brought to someone while they remain at home has made it easier for humans to become more antisocial. Fortunately, there are ways to combat the larger social trend toward isolation and being antisocial.
    The art of small talk can still be utilized in an online environment. People just need to become more creative in the way they reimagine small talk. Joining a team’s call 5 minutes early, putting your camera on, and just talking to people is a great start. Sending messages via the chat function of an online video chat platform, is another way to contribute to a conversation. This method of small talk works great when someone is in a meeting with a large group. People may notice your comment and appreciate what you said. This act allows people to create a dialogue during a large online meeting, where it’s hard to distinguish yourself from the crowd.
    Small talk conversations don’t need to be complicated, when reaching out to someone on a virtual platform, just talk about something basic. Discuss noncontroversial current events, recently released movies and shows, and sports. All of these topics are easy to talk about and usually avoid being controversial. Its import to not discuss something to serious in a small talk conversation or to bring up something controversial in nature because the other person you are talking to could become offended. Yes, these basic rules of small talk still apply in a online setting. The only difference in the end, is the medium which you are using to talk with other people. As society progresses and becomes more technologically advanced, online social interactions will be typical and expected as humans will be spending less time together in-person.

  4. The balance between work and life is vital for the mental health of all workers. Many times people prioritize work and completely forget that to maintain a happy life they need to socialize with others. No matter how introverted one can not live without socializing. Although it is essential to have a social life, many times it is difficult to maintain one. I fall victim to the troubles of maintaining a social life and keeping up with my assignments. If I am not doing home assignments, I am studying. If I do not have any upcoming assignments or quizzes, I am working to better my resume or studying the markets. There are seldom times when I have time off to relax or socialize with others. I tend to avoid small talk or water cooler conversations as I feel as if they benefit me not. Neglecting this aspect of my life can have a detrimental effect on my overall well-being.
    I have seen and heard countless stories in which students dedicate their life solely to studying and work. When they finally get to where they want to be in life, they come to realize that they suffer from severe depression caused by loneliness. Imagine, working your whole life to achieve a goal that you think will make you happy, only to realize that you have nobody to share the experience with. This is why I have to find ways that I can fit in social life within my busy schedule
    After reading the article, “4 ways to make time for ‘watercooler conversations’ in the hybrid work setting”, I have found just the way. The article describes 4 ways in which people can strike conversation while working. These conversation tips include staying accessible, following up, listening and sharing, and finding ways to connect with others. I can implement these conversation tips into my study life. I have to embrace small talk instead of keeping to myself. The article highlights small talk as a good way to keep one’s mental health up. I can fit small talks into my commute to class or even while I study at the library. These small talks can even translate to friendship if I follow up with the person. As long as I keep my social life healthy whenever I can, then I should see a substantial change in my overall health.

  5. The change from in person to remote work was drastic for most companies and its employees. This has saved a lot of people time on daily commutes, and allowed employees to live or travel away from their office location because of remote access. There are definitely positives to remote working, but one of the biggest downfalls is the lack of social interactions. Employees tend to get into the habit of completing their work and attend meetings, but lack social interaction with co-workers. This might seem like no issue, but casual interactions in the workplace can increase your social well-being and mental health.
    New employees that started working after the pandemic began have likely not met most of their co-workers in person. They know what they look like because of cameras in meetings, but oftentimes they would get to engage in some form of conversation on a break or stopping by each other’s desk. Building social relationships can improve efficiency in the workplace because of the increase in mental health. These small conversations can also help team building and increase motivation in group or team work.
    I have worked one in person internship and one remote internship over recent summers. I can definitely agree that morale and efficiency are higher in the office setting. Saving about an hour or more per day commuting was a massive bonus, but I did not get to meet the other interns in person. I messaged a few of them and we had some conversations on Microsoft teams, but sending messages is still not the same as walking by and asking if they watched the Knicks game. It is also more difficult to communicate with superiors or team members. My experience in person was a lot more interactive with co-workers because I could stop by their office and ask a question or they could come walk down the hall if they needed me. Sometimes when I was working remotely, it would be difficult to get into contact with team members if they are busy with meetings.
    There are still ways to communicate and interact in the remote environment, it just takes some effort. Reaching out to people that are not in meetings, or inviting someone to a 10 minute call just to catch up or see how their week is going can help build relationships in an online setting. Staying accessible is also important when attempting to build relationships in the remote workplace. It is a difficult task, but being social in a remote setting is important to success in and industry.

  6. I agree with the idea presented in this article that relationships and communication between people generate greater happiness. Being able to communicate with people and knowing you are part of a group with people who think similarly to you is incredibly satisfying. Nevertheless, I disagree with the 4 simple methods presented to have conversations and communicate effectively with other people. The author of the article thinks that these strategies are appropriate for everyone. However, an introverted individual will have a difficult time adhering to any of the strategies. On the other hand, the article presents some strategies to start conversations with people through social media. In some cases, these strategies can make us look like stalkers and can make the person we begin talking to feel uncomfortable and not want to respond to us. This is not something that always happens, since many people are used to starting conversations through social networks. However, it seems to me that this type of strategy is anything but ¨simple¨. Finally, in the article, we are told that any type of conversation can generate some happiness, even spontaneous conversations with strangers. Despite this, I consider that a conversation with a stranger or with someone who does not have any kind of relationship with you may not contribute much and does not generate any kind of happiness. These types of conversations might be superficial and banal, so no one gives them any kind of importance. It is important to say that everything I am saying is based on my personal experience and my preferences at the moment when I am initiating a conversation with someone or just talking to anyone. The strategies addressed in the article can be effective for the author and many more people. However, I think the article is intended to present ¨simple¨ ways to start a conversation, but in my opinion, they are not and they are a bit far from reality.

  7. Having conversations in work setting should be made a priority because of the benefits that it provides. I find the following article to be very interesting because of the examples it provides on how important it can be. The article also provides 4 ways to make conversations. The reason they provide having acquaintances in work is important because it make you happier because of the conversations and relationships you can have in your work setting. The 1st example they provide is to stay assessable. This meaning to be available to other people. This is important because going out for coffee or lunch having conversation with others is important. The 2nd point that share is to follow up. While reading why they picked this as a option, it made a lot of sense because it is another opportunity for a conversation. This makes sense because it allow it to be more than once. The 3rd one they provide is to listen and share. I can tell why they shared this key because it is important to be able to have a conversation with someone and to be able to listen to what the other person has to say and to share with them what you have to say also. The last one that they provided was to engineer connections the best way you can. I understand why they said this because having connections with other people including coworkers is important because you never know when someone can help you. They shared that you can make connections by having friendly gatherings at times and to help others and by being nice to everyone. Overall this article provided lots of knowledge in order to make conversations in work setting.

  8. This article could have not been more accurate at targeting individuals who rely heavily on their cellphones. Since the advancement of technology humans have slowly lacked communication skills. Calling others over the phone is something people have done less and less. Texting has taken over and used more often because people rather avoid confrontation. What has made it worse was when Covid-19 came about and since then mostly everything has been moved online. This means individuals aren’t having the needed amount of human interactions forcing them to lack social skills. This makes it difficult for those individuals when getting interviewed for a job or just having a regular conversation with a friend or family member. After reading the article, “4 ways to make time for ‘watercooler conversations’ in the hybrid work setting”, increasing ones social interactions can enhance social well-being. This allows room for growth when it comes to social skills because being able to talk to colleagues builds a connection with them. This connection can get you further in your work field and allow for networking. Small talk with colleagues allows for key skills to be built such as, communication and listening. So in my personal opinion you should come out of your shell because keeping to yourself will only get you but so far.

  9. The idea of having many acquaintances provides more happiness is something I agree with to the fullest extent. If you have people who you are constantly coming in contact with, whether they be friends or just someone who you know from work or school, you have people in your life that don’t make you feel alone. Feeling alone with no one to talk to is the worst way for a person to live. Having connections to people and being more active with social interactions allows you to feel cared for among other things that factor into your happiness.

  10. Within this article, author Tracy Brower establishes the crucial element of communications within both personal and professional lives, providing for stronger relationships with colleagues, friends and family.
    Over the last two years due to the global pandemic, the majority of people have been working from home, sitting behind a screen and only having the same circle of physical connections. Due to this the world has become more technologically advanced and individuals have had to learn to establish personal relationships via the internet, for example teams calls, zoom, slack and via the use of many other digital platforms.
    Studies done within the University of British Columbia have established “when people had greater numbers of acquaintances, they were happier.”, this has been backed up within the article by the University of Chicago. This is evidentiary that having a few social interactions within a day can benefit not only the confidence aspect of your life but also the mental health section, as feeling happier and being more open and talkative is a sign of a happy mind.
    The above article establishes that your work is one of the key places where personal social interactions happen, and that it has a huge contribution to your daily interaction levels, this illustrates the importance of taking in the everyday life instead of intently scrolling through images of how someone’s weekend has been on social media, it is important that when in social situations to take a break from the technology world and step into the real world to have sociable conversations and acquaintances.
    It is important to note that although the workplace is a huge part of the social interaction section of our lives, so is our educational section. In today’s world most people have their first social interaction within educational settings and this leads to developing more personal connections that can establish life long bonds. It is important within such settings as mentioned above to have social connections and interactions as to not only benefit the social aspect of our lives but also our mental health, having people around you and having small conversations can have a huge impact on our mental ability and capability to get through certain days, highlighting the importance of human contact.
    This article establishes certain ways and tips to form connections and acquaintances within the workplace, such as “staying accessible, following up, listening and sharing, and finding ways to connect with others” these are important tips to use within everyday life to establish new connections and expand your networks, as being open and able to socialise is a huge aspect of life.

  11. I’ve always found it fascinating how a simple passing conversation with a stranger can lift your spirits, but to now know that acquaintanceships such as that are proven to contribute to greater happiness is game-changing for how I approach life. I want to take the points the article brings up and apply them not just in the workplace, but everywhere I go.
    Some people say that they’re fine being alone, but the data from the University of Columbia proves that seeking solitude is not a path to greater happiness. Humans are social animals, and this research only strengthens that claim; the data from the experiment showed that while people anticipate talking with a stranger to yield no or little pleasure from the interaction, they feel better acting extroverted rather than introverted. The point of the experiments was to determine if reaching out and connecting with a stranger actually provided a more positive experience than ignoring social interaction. In the end, people prefer these kinds of interactions to none at all, even if there is no lasting connection with the stranger, and even if there is a possibility or fear of the interaction being negative. Subconsciously, we all crave connections, no matter how fleeting or insignificant they may seem. In truth, it’s these seemingly insignificant conversations that can provide lasting joy. These interactions could also blossom into networking opportunities; the moral is to not fear starting up a conversation with a stranger, because the chances are it will be a positive experience for all.
    Getting back to the article, it offers the advice to stay accessible, which I believe is vital to healthy relationships. To relate this to my life, the cafeteria is a social hub for all students; on days when I’m feeling upbeat I’ll sit in plain view of anyone walking by so that my friends can see me and join me. But on days that I’m not feeling too confident I’ll sit in a secluded booth. What this article is suggesting is that making yourself seen and giving people the opportunity to join you is what will cheer you up, not wallowing in despair by yourself. Not trying to become happy is cowardice, as I like to say. The only way to not spiral into depression is to help yourself by putting yourself out there.
    The article also says to “follow up.” What this means is pay attention to what people are saying, and bring that up later. Showing people that you listen to them makes them see that you care enough about them to remember things about them. This is a useful tip to remember in any kind of relationship. Also, I can’t believe the article says to ‘make memes if there is an inside joke’, as genuine advice; this I already do with my friend group now that I think about it, so I suppose it works!
    Lastly, the article instructs the reader to cultivate the bonds they’ve made. Schedule days to hang out, collaborate in activities and do things together. This was an extremely insightful article to read, and I will certainly be applying some of this advice in my daily life.

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