Water cooler moments don’t have to disappear in the virtual workplace

For the fortunate few who can work from home, the pandemic has brought an abrupt end to workplace mingling. Gone are the days of pausing in the office hallway to catch up. Farewell to the gossip dispensed at the break room coffee machine. There was a time not long ago when colleagues would chat as they walked to the conference room; now they log onto Zoom meetings and hit mute.

But not everyone is ready to give up on smalltalk until lockdowns end.

“I got tired of reading article after article where people said we have to go back to the office because we need to have the kinds of in-person interactions that we can only get there,” said MIT management professor Thomas Malone. “They’re wrong. You can get quite a lot of it online with what turns out to be some fairly simple technology.”

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