28 Replies Latest reply on Jan 13, 2014 8:50 AM by JHaines

    What would you call the Watercooler area?


      In my discussions with clients, we always recommend setting up an area in their social site that gives folks a place to talk about anything in general. We refer to this as the "Watercooler," but realize that term can either be viewed as woefully outdated, or very much in tune with a company's culture, depending on where you work.


      That said, what are some other names you'd call such a place? I tweeted this question, and here are some of the responses I received:


      • Coffeeshop
      • Corridor
      • Lobby
      • Atrium
      • Foyer
      • Hallway
      • Cafe
      • Coffe Spot
      • Garden
      • Club
      • Park
      • Vibe
      • Pulze
      • Agora
      • The Octagon (my personal favorite)
      • Buzz


      What else comes to mind?


      BTW, this is an excellent question to ask in your budding social environment to get people engaged in a simple and fun way.

        • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?

          Another one from my pal Chris Reckling over at IBM Lotus:




          You could riff on that with Lava Lounge, Velvet Lounge, etc. Best to tie it into the overall branding of the site, of course.

          • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?
            wallyrogers Advanced

            We called it "around the water cooler" but "the latest scuttlebutt" comes to mind. For a little younger or more casual crowd, you might try "Just Chillin"


            We had some good spontaneous conversations at the water cooler. One on standardizing online training and tools. Another on creating a community calendar. Another long  on favorite ice breakers with groups.

            It surprised me.

            • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?

              I named ours, "Get a Life" but we now find that the user-created groups are, instead, the popular places for people to conduct these kinds of activities. I see it as a telling example of the way social media works: sometimes it doesn't matter what you set up for people to use, as they have the power and the tools to create their own communities. Our "Get a Life" space doesn't get much traffic (but, admittedly, we haven't worked at all to promote it).

              • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?

                We named ours, "Break Room". Pretty basic title but our employee base seems to get the idea around the purpose of that space!


                Similar to Ted our "Break Room" does not get a lot of usage and we too have not promoted it as much as we should (we will do this more in the coming year though)!

                • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?

                  GTS is the name of our company so we do...


                  GTS COMMONS

                  • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?
                    cflanagan17 Expert

                    I like the idea of Break Room and Lounge as alternatives that get across the same "non"-business purpose.


                    For global companies, do you think this would be words that mean the same thing in all cultures?  And have you heard other ideas from your global counterparts?

                    • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?

                      We created a community called "Speak Out".  With no real push, it took off and remains one of the most visited areas.  I keep and eye on the questions and discussions to make sure the "right" people are seeing them.  Making sure questions are answered and suggstions and comments are acknowledged goes a long way in keeping the energy level up.


                      • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?

                        I love the watercooler idea. I have been pushing for this for some time. Do you guys have any success metrics that I could show a positive return.

                        • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?
                          TommyRyan Beginner

                          Gia Lyons do you typically see folks create the "Water Cooler" non business place as a Group or Space?  I noticed that in our new Jive Instance that it was provisioned as a Space and I expected a Group instead (since it is ad-hoc and topic based).  I also asked this question on Groups vs. Spaces .

                          • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?

                            We weren't that inventive and simply called it "The Watercooler". It's implemented as a "member's only" group and was one of the first things we did. About a third of the populace is a member and there's a constant stream of activities (about 2 new discussions a day). We used it originally as an onboarding facility. Much easier for people to post a question or answer about a good dentist or panel beater and not to worry about if something goes wrong I loose all of that information.


                            Conversely we have a similar generic group for business purposes called "Ask all of Tait". While membership is growing content is still scarce....

                              • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?

                                Given that we reach over 50K users in 60 countries, we didn't want to setup a single home for 'water cooler' chat.  We did start a couple of non-business groups to show others that anyone was welcome to start a social group around their personal interests and share with others.  Two of the groups that we originally started, 'The Foodie Network' and 'Health & Fitness group' are still our to largest social groups.  People can join, follow and share in group that is centered around their interests, and not be hammered with topics that they had little interest in.


                                It has been very interesting watching groups form around various topics.  Some of my favorites are:


                                Cat Ladies

                                What's on Tap (Beer Brewing)

                                Wine Cellar


                                Motorcycle Enthusiasts

                                Model Rocket Club

                                Rugby World Cup


                                Although one of best groups has to be 'I have a Question?'  We have seen hundreds of questions get asked and get answered.  Some are work related, like ordering Blackberry accessories.  Others were some random, like where buy the Jelly Bellies in Indy?  

                                  • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?

                                    Thanks for sharing JD! I want to point out that JD's organization is in the pharmaceuticals industry. Love the freedom to connect on non-business topics - it makes for deeper, trusted work relationships in the end. IMO.


                                    Sent from my iPad

                                      • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?
                                        kieranpkelly Beginner

                                        Hi Gia, can you point to any material that makes a good case for using SBS to connect on non-business topics?  My feeling is that SBS works best when it mirrors how people genuinely interact in the workplace and this of course involves a great deal of non-business discussion and humour.  I would like to be able to make a case for non-business interaction with a current client who has insisted that we use the term BNS (Business Networking Software) rather than SBS because they distrust the notion of using a business tool for social interaction.  So anything that makes the argument that social interaction in the workplace is natural and beneficial would be helpful.  Thanks!


                                        And to bring my reply right back to topic here are some ideas for the name of the Watercooler area:

                                        • The Promenade
                                        • The Nags Head (typical name for an English pub)
                                        • The Kitchen (in my experience this is where people gravitate at parties!)


                                          • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?
                                            TommyRyan Beginner

                                            Thanks Kieran Kelly , JD Guckenberger , Mike Crocker , Frank Gebhardt (and of course Gia Lyons ) for the help with this.  We are going with an Open Group called Just Chillin.  Will probably expand with topic specific non-work related Open Groups (like On Tap for favorite beverages or Rocky Mountain High for hiking enthusiasts).


                                            How can you not love crowd sourcing a question.  You guys rock!

                                            • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?

                                              Hi Kieran,


                                              In my experience, the whole, "people connecting on non-business/personal interest topics leads to  trusted relationships" argument is a weak one when faced with a traditional organizational culture.


                                              Instead, here's what I've seen work:


                                              Relate a personal interest topic to business.

                                              One of our customers has a business unit that creates surgical devices used by, well, surgeons. When we discussed the validity of non-business topical groups, we identified what I call "tangential topic domains" that support the business's surgical device R&D activities. As a result, they created the Model Airplanes interest group, because the thinking and activities associated with building model airplanes can inform what researchers do when thinking about surgical devices. So, the lesson here is to ARTICULATE HOW a particular non-business topic leads to time or money saved, more money, or better innovation.


                                              Another example: one customer had a culture that allowed for appropriate non-business topics. Their Photography group ultimately came up with an idea to use the group members' photos in the company's marketing campaigns. They effectively saved the company money that would have been spent on expensive digital assets.


                                              Position personal interest topics as a way to support HR-related employee health and wellness initiatives.

                                              In many organizations, HR groups have ongoing employee health and wellness initiatives. One Jive customer (in the healthcare industry) created personal interest groups in each region that related to employees' physical health, local community involvement, and environmental interests.


                                              This included groups such as:

                                              • San Diego Cyclists (commuting to work on bicycles, races, etc.)
                                              • Cleveland Volunteers (volunteering in the local community)
                                              • The Recycle Challenge (who can reduce, reuse, recycle the most within a given month)


                                              Here's what I would recommend:

                                              Go to your HR folks, and ask them how personal interest groups in your Jive community could help support their initiatives. Ask them if their initiatives would also allow for generally accepted hobbies, such as photography, knitting, recipe-sharing, etc. Perhaps they have some sort of "Whole Employee" or "we support our employees lives, not just their work lives" approach.


                                              Finally, I haven't actually read through all of this yet, but Gallup seems to be the ultimate authority in measuring overall employee engagement, and recommending what to do to keep employees engaged at work. This leads to lower employee turnover, better business performance, and higher employee satisfaction.




                                              Here are some more stats, but I don't see anything blatantly saying, "when people commune on non-business topics, it helps keep them engaged"



                                              I hope this helps!

                                              • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?

                                                Kieran Kelly, here's a bit more from Kathryn Everest:

                                                You put that "balance" of work and non-work back on the worker in social software the same way you do today [without social software].  And you measure the benefit of "we are hitting our numbers harder - AND we have less turnover, happier more engaged workforce, etc."

                                            • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?
                                              bjewell Beginner

                                              I'll pile on to JD's list with some of our more popular "life beyond work" groups:

                                              • Working Parents
                                              • Photography
                                              • DIY (do it yourself)
                                              • The Discerning Drinker
                                              • Events in the City
                                              • GameOn
                                              • Fitness (another is Love to Run)
                                              • I'm a MAC
                                          • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?

                                            Although we dont have social communities/topics yet, I support the idea and believe the success factors (adoption) for a watercooler area are the same as for a work related community - it needs to be interesting and useful, thus it must be relevant and you will need some "topic" owners to stimulate useful content.


                                            With Jive, you will have to create a social group/place for each social topic - if you used another technology, one would create a social area with a number of social topics. The topics in either case will be focused on a relevant topic i.e. running, cycling, soccer, 2010 World Cup, Single Parenting, Working Parents, etc. I dont think one single generic forum/blog will draw much interest as no one will be able to stomach the amount spam only to find one relevant post.


                                            It is simple supply and demand principles - you need people that want something and people that want to give give something together. Find out what is the general interests / needs of the people and focus on that, get some subject champions to stimulate conversation/useful info. People like people like themselves..



                                            • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?

                                              Just thinking about this now, good ideas on this thread, thanks. I'm wondering if we do this whether it's better to have a space with sub-interest spaces and groups maybe so we can keep all of the 'general chat' places together. Would be interested to hear what others have done.

                                                • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?
                                                  Kara Francis Novice

                                                  I like the subspace hierarchical approach, but I don't like the permissions management piece.  If groups had sub groups, then I'd vote for that.  Otherwise, I'd probably just do groups and then tag them each with watercooler and then add tags related to the specific topic.  We could then have a watch a tag widget added to a main watercooler group to display the groups and also ask for watercooler "sub group” topics or as a topic becomes popular in the main watercool spot, it could be a signal to set up a stand-alone group for that topic and move the related content.  There is some overhead to this approach as well, though.


                                                  I'm thinking out loud, so I don't know if I like my idea or not…

                                                  • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?
                                                    brianulm Novice

                                                    I tend to agree with the comments that is better to have social groups that are focused on a topic / area of interest versus a general catch-all water cooler. The exception might be if the company is not very large. We have groups that have sprung up on themes ranging from fitness, to runners groups, to veterans working within the company. I think its make for a more organic, genuine experience when the participants have a common thread that pulls them together and engages them. 

                                                      • Re: What would you call the Watercooler area?
                                                        JHaines Beginner

                                                        Agree with Brian Ulm and others that you probably need a few affinity cases, they should be specific and I would avoid having a general / non-specific area.  The better you can focus the conversation in to specific subject areas the better it will be used, consumened and found by others.  I would also add that you need to determine what your looking to get in return e.g. ideation, conversation, etc.  and tailor the experience from there.