How to Build Virtual Water Cooler Culture

Virtual water cooler culture is a prominent topic in the remote workforce (read more about virtual water cooler culture and its importance here!) Many remote companies struggle to replicate the informal social interactions employees typically have when standing around the water cooler or grabbing a coffee in the break room. Discussing this topic is one thing, but how do you actually implement it in your remote organization? 

The foundation of virtual water cooler culture is cultivating regular, genuine connections among your employees.

Your organization’s management should therefore focus on creating social opportunities for your employees to connect on a human level, rather than their typical work interactions.

Here are some of our favorite ideas for building virtual water cooler culture:

1. Weekly updates

The best way for your employees to connect is to simply chat! They just need the time and space to do it. Consider setting aside 5 minutes in weekly meetings for everyone to share something about their personal life, and encourage them to share pictures! This could include family updates, a fun trip they took over the weekend, or something they are passionate about.

2. Organize groups based on common interests

Another way to increase informal communication is to organize interest groups in your team’s communication platform, such as Slack. Dedicate a topic to each group and have employees join based on their common interests. For example, create a #FitandFun group where employees can share workouts, healthy recipes, and motivation. Other ideas can be based on pets, sports, or even a “random” category for anything else! Dedicate one employee to monitor each group and encourage regular engagement.

3. Create a peer-to-peer recognition program

Each week, instruct each employee to recognize the worker they believe performed best that week. You can even include prizes, such as gift cards, or it can simply encourage your employees to be more aware and recognize the hard work of their peers. You can do this in any format that works for your team, or use a designated peer recognition platform. We recommend HeyTaco!, a Slack app that aims to build happier teams by inspiring positive communication, using tacos as a currency to reward team members. 

4. Celebrate your employees

Keep track of your employees’ birthdays and milestones, and celebrate the important days in their life. Whether your team has a calendar dedicated to special occasions, or you decide to send out email reminders, make sure each employee feels valued on their special day. You may even decide to send them a gift card or host a special lunch.

5. Special Events 

Where the above ideas can be regularly implemented into your normal operations, your team can also host engaging remote social events to continue fostering relationships, and have some fun! Consider these great special events: 

These ideas can help to get you thinking of ways to enhance the social relationships among your employees. Ultimately, your virtual water cooler culture should be unique, and based on topics that are meaningful to your employees. Ask them for some ideas, and continuously collect feedback about whichever ideas you implement. If a certain event becomes a hit, make it an annual or quarterly occurrence! Your culture will be as engaging, fun, and meaningful as you and your team make it.

Having a tight knit team that works well together is an indispensable asset to a business. While we may be physically distant from each other, we can work to be closer as a team. Contact VForce for more insights into virtual water cooler culture and cultivating a great team.