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The Virtual Watercooler

The whole Covid-19 situation means that we are having to keep employees safe whilst trying to keep the business in shape in unusual circumstances.

The situation is even more complicated for those companies who cannot allow remote working for everyone. There are numerous checklist and ideas for organisations to follow as people come back into the workplace, but here are some ideas that may not have been considered.

  • Walking Breaks – the Government guidance during lockdown has always recommended exercise. So why should it stop when we get back to work? Lunchtime walks should be encouraged where possible. It has been proven to reduce stress and allows employees to be more productive on their return.
  • The Virtual Water Cooler – this term has come from the other side of ‘the pond’, but letting employees set up their own virtual group meetings just for social purposes gives an opportunity to ‘chat’ during their break or lunchtime. It replaces the chat that would normally happen in the canteen or in the kitchen. Clearly it will need to be monitored for use and content, but it will help to build the team and improve their mental health too.
  • Management Involvement – it is important that the senior people in the organisation are visible (physically or remotely). This may seem alien to many, but it is an opportunity to build the team and to feel supported. Now is a great opportunity to make this change.
  • The Kitchen Table – many staff are used to working on the kitchen table during lockdown and become accustomed to this workspace. The office must be seen as the HQ and it needs to be alluring and relevant for employees and customers alike. Workplace culture and the need to meet people is important in any business and now even more so.
  • Presenteeism is Dead – In some pre-Covid situations, employees showed up for work even when they were ill and they shouldn’t have been there. Although the job still needs to be done, flexibility is needed. The usual workplace does not represent work itself.

There are many new rules covering social distancing, one way systems, hand washing, no visitors, etc. that will need to be addressed before the office gets ‘busy’ again. Contact Coppice HR on 07814 008478 or paul@coppicehr.com to work through the conventional requirments and those that make employees looking forward to moving from the kitchen table to the office.


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