What Is A Virtual Coffee Break? And What Are The Benefits?
There is no time in the working day more sacred than when you grab a coffee with your team; either in the office or at your favourite local coffee shop, it sets us up for a good day at work with that much needed social interaction and coffee hit the perfect pairing. Now that this ritual has been interrupted by the coronavirus, so many of us are working from home and unable to have that physical interaction over a cup of coffee. This has brought about the virtual coffee break, which is sweeping the nation in its popularity, excluding none and prioritising the mental health and social needs of our workforce.
Here at Corporate Coffee, we are fundamentally inspired by our customer base and the many ways in which they enjoy our coffee machines and coffee beans, whether that is in the office or in the home office. Today we are going to take a deeper look at what exactly a virtual coffee break is, what the benefits are and how easily these breaks can be in the new normal we find ourselves living in. Now, turn on the coffee machine and let’s get into it.
What you need to know about the virtual coffee break
If you haven’t been enjoying the global situation that we have found ourselves in, then the virtual coffee break might be that burst of inspiration that has been lacking in your working week, echoing back to the days in the office. The good news is that tomorrow is a new day, and with it comes many opportunities to connect with your colleagues and clients over a virtual coffee, so let’s get to it.
Defining the virtual coffee break
So what constitutes a virtual coffee break? It’s an informal catch up that is shared between colleagues, clients and any other peers that we typically interact with at work, and no longer have access to them when it is time for a coffee or to just break up the day with a social chat. With most businesses now using remote working tools (such as Slack, Teams, Skype and Zoom), it’s never been easier to communicate over video and see faces.
Although frequently overlooked, working from home does comes with its benefits – not the least of which is cutting down on a commute and spending more time with our family. However, it does remove the incidental social interaction that comes as part of working in an office, and this has an impact on our mental health as well as feeling included in the business and our work team dynamic. A virtual coffee break provides a forum in which to catch up on the weekends and even chat off the record about anything on our minds.
Breaking up the day
You might think that meetings are a forum in which to connect casually with your colleagues, although this time in your calendar is reserved for work time and discussion, and so it can be hard to change gears and start nattering away about the last thing you saw on Netflix. Even if you do have meetings with the people you are catching up with for a coffee, try and keep these time separate so you have a time slot and break to look forward to.
Morale has been understandably low in most organisations, with employees facing uncertainties not just at work but in their personal lives. By encouraging virtual coffee breaks and team building activities in your business, your team will feel supported in knowing that this half an hour time slot is entirely theirs to enjoy and that their employers have consented to this time being used in this fashion. If you have a moral problem in the business you work for, why not suggest this to your management team and see how they like it.
One-on-time with your manager or direct reports
We take for granted the freedom we had in simply tacking on fifteen minutes at the end of a physical meeting to see how our team is going with their workload, professional development and overall mood – but now this time has been taken away. If you have been meeting with your team in a large group, it can be hard to read the body language and sentiment of every individual team member, especially when there are chattier members who can dominate the conversation and others who choose to turn their video off.
Touching base with other office mates
In the course of our careers, it’s impossible not to make friends with others who inhabit the same building as we do, or people at work that you don’t really work with but can always count on for a laugh over a coffee. Rather than letting these friendships fall by the wayside, schedule in time for a virtual coffee break so that you can keep these conversations happening, and maybe do some decompressing about any work grievances with the comfort of knowing they are not attached to your role or team.
Planning a perfect virtual coffee break
Now that you know what a virtual coffee break is and why it’s such an important fixture in your workweek, you can begin to plan a perfect break where you and your peers can just enjoy one another’s company, in the format that we have come to know. When you invite the participants to your coffee break, be sure to tell them what the purpose is of this meeting, just in case they prepare for a client meeting instead of a meeting for coffee!