What have you missed most about working in the office?

It might be the aromatic convenience of a full coffee pot when 2pm hits. Or maybe it’s the just-enough-for-one-book-chapter commute.

For our Design team, it was the spontaneous “water cooler” conversations—the moments where they got to catch up with each other about silly things, anecdotes, and memes. When your team is fully remote, we’ve found that it’s harder to have those casual moments without everything feeling so manufactured, planned, and programmed.

But, they had an idea: what if, everyday, they just asked each other a thought-provoking question? The goal was to spark conversation and keep building on the community environment they’d created in the office.

And that’s how Water Cooler Topics started.

Grid view of Design team’s bad haircuts

Design team’s shares the worst hairstyles they’ve ever had

The original idea was to keep it going until stay-at-home was lifted. We were surprised when that turned into 6 months (and counting), but we weren’t surprised by how creative our team got with it.

Questions ranged from “What’s your favorite childhood snack?” to “If Thanos snaps and one typeface disappears, what typeface would you make it disappear?”

Water Cooler Topics has helped our team stay connected while they’ve been working apart, so we wanted to share it with the world. We tweaked some of the questions (to make them more universally applicable) and put them in a free eBook (that you can download at the end of this article).

If you want to connect with your team in a casual, “water cooler” way, we encourage you to take on this challenge: Ask your team a question a day in whatever workspace you use. Better yet, take our approach and start your own from scratch (for that, we’ve got some tips below).

We hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

screenshots from ebook

Download our eBook at the end of this article >>

Water Cooler Questions: Writing Tips

Know Your Audience

  • What interests them?
  • What are some things that they share in common?
  • What might be too niche for some members?

Be Aware of Boundaries

  • What topics might be triggering for your team?
  • What might cause friction between members?
  • What might be too serious? (It’s meant to be fun.)

Make It Easy to Participate

  • Are there any prerequisites (i.e. taking a photo, finding an item, etc.)? If so, is it easy to accomplish?
  • How long will it take for people to respond?
  • Who is “in charge” of asking the questions? (Our design team has a rotating list so everyone can contribute.)

Try Our 137 Water Cooler Topics

  • Harrison Stamell

  • 3 min read

  • Harrison Stamell

  • 3 min read

  • Brendan Hufford

  • Design
  • 3 min read

  • Brendan Hufford

  • Design
  • 3 min read