DISCUSSION OR DISTRACTION?

Twice as Many Employees as Managers Believe Water Cooler Chats Increase Productivity, Survey Says

MENLO PARK, CA -- The gift of gab can lead to improved work performance, according to employees, but managers may beg to differ. In recent surveys, 40 percent of workers said water cooler conversations increase productivity by providing opportunities for employee bonding; only 21 percent of executives polled agreed.

The surveys were developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. They were conducted by an independent research firm and include responses from 150 senior executives at the nation’s 1,000 largest companies, as well as 539 full- or part-time office workers.

Executives and employees were asked, “Which of the following most closely resembles your views on the impact office water cooler chatter has on productivity?” Their responses: 

    Employees   Managers

Increases productivity by encouraging
workers to bond with each other

 

40%

  21%
Has no effect on productivity  

30%

  41%
Decreases productivity due to time wasted  

26%

  34%
Don’t know/no answer  

    4%

      4%
   

100%

  100%

“Informal discussions at the water cooler or in the lunchroom can often lead to new ideas, stronger work relationships and improved team camaraderie, which, in turn, can increase productivity,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam.

Domeyer advises, however, that this is true up to a point. “Conversations should not interfere with work that needs to be done. If talks steer away from business issues and continue for extended periods of time, it’s distracting to others. In these cases, the dialogue should be continued after office hours.”

OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.officeteam.com.


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