25 January 2018

Coffee benefits to your company culture

Wunder Culture
Great Place to Work
Remote teams
Communication

Drinking coffee may reduce your risk of cancer and coffee drinking may have further health benefits, as a large review of studies indicate according to BBC citing the BMJ (British Medical Journal). 
But even if it is just a "may"... Our internal experience with the steamy freshly brewed beverage has shown that it at least is of great merit for our company’s culture health and to the joy of our Wunderers. Read on, if you want to find out how 300ml of coffee can make a difference in your company culture, too!

Disclaimer: personally, I am a huge fan of tea, rather than coffee. This works, too!

The benefits of watercooler conversations

Imagine your work day: usually, you arrive at the office and head straight to the kitchen to get some coffee. Or, you go to the kitchen after lunch, to get some coffee. Or, you have enjoyed too much of this delicious carrot cheese cake in the afternoon… and go to the kitchen to get some coffee.
There, you are very likely to meet colleagues. You are likely to have a chat, a water cooler conversation, while the coffee is brewed and poured in. 
Afterwards, you will not only return to your desk with a nice mug of tasty, steaming and hot coffee, but also with something that you have learnt:

  • an amazing story of a successful project,
  • a fun and/or interesting fact about your colleagues,
  • something that has inspired you to try, or
  • just simply with the feeling of working exactly at the right company with the right people.

Yeah, maybe the one standing in the kitchen was even a new face, which you have not seen at your office yet. But now know more about her.

This bonding is great to create and foster a united company spirit. These small interactions are crucial to build up relationships of respect. And they provide an unstructured space for professional, but also non-professional "interruptions" and conversations.

Remote work: focused… but missing the people factor?

Now imagine your work day at Wunder: here, we have been embracing new ways of working since day #1, in particular the possibility to work wherever (and mostly whenever) you want to. You might choose to physically join your colleagues at one of our 8 offices. But you might also decide to stay "virtual".

This virtual and remote team structure has great benefits (e.g. focused work, flexibility, self-management, employee satisfaction), but it comes with a price. We have implicitly removed a key aspect of interpersonal communication and relationship building: by default and unless you are a natural born networker, you’re likely to have your water cooler conversations (or coffee breaks) with your inner you. Which is nice and even recommended at times. But it can make you forget about the great colleagues who you’re working with. And resulting in a lack of the aforementioned water cooler conversation.

Solid professional and personal relationships achieve a lot

I see a great benefit for our customer projects and any internal initiatives by regularly investing some time on nurturing facetime and by this deepening our professional and personal relationships: You gain a way better understanding of your colleagues, and built a trustful and respectful relationship. Both being of immanent help to keep a culture of openness, honesty and transparency - which at times requires arguments, discussions and verbal fights and let's us address swelling conflicts properly while respecting each other as persons and individuals.

And thanks to Florian for a very cheery half an hour! This is super inspiring having the talks on whatever with colleagues from abroad - Timo

We needed something different, something additional, something that our Wunderers will embrace and like to use, and something that easily integrates into our schedules:

Coffee-time

I love this idea!! Can't wait for my first coffee break... - Anu

Meet coffee time, the result of a three month experiment, which we have run at Wunder. The main goals of this are

  • Nurture our culture of being "One Company": raise awareness for the size, diversity and multiple facets within our company
  • Learn about the interesting personalities, who are working with you at Wunder
  • Constantly build and grow relationships with colleagues

It's always great to discover the amazing things colleagues do in their free time. Did you know that Timo makes some fantastic photos? (not the point-and-shoot kind, the film and dark room kind) - FlorianL

How to drink coffee

There are only a few, simple and loosely structured guidelines, which shall help to get the coffee flowing. It comes down to “have a nice cup of coffee with a colleague for roughly 30 minutes", and is extended slightly by

  • Start the coffee call with a checkin (how are you today, what is on your mind, any expectations to this coffee call)
  • Provide a introduction about you: when have you joined Wunder, what have you done so far, what excites you, what's it like in your office/city/country?
  • What is currently challenging you in your project and work at Wunder? Is there something that you try to get your head around?  

We were all over the place with our chat. Was nice talking with Petteri. I also had not considered how far up north Oulu actually was before looking it up on the map during our discussion. Yet another successful :coffee: time :) - Peeter

How we facilitate the coffee times: smart!

The setup was very easy: we are using donut.ai, a bot which we integrated to our Slack workspace. The bot takes care of randomly forming pairs or trios every other week. It also keeps track of the pairing history to create new combinations in every turn. 

Just had a coffee break with Hanna! We realised that we didn't meet at WunderCon, but that's definitely going to change next time cause the ice has been broken. - Raimonds

Of course, you can also use a simple spreadsheet, brew your individual application or ask us to develop an app for you. The idea underneath is simple: pick someone you have not yet or only sparsely met, brew some coffee and enjoy!

Wunder stands for work 4.0 and beyond

I would love you to experience the joy and astonished reactions in your company, too. How a handful of beans, powered by a simple process can foster a more interconnected, genuinely interested and innovative culture in your company. Just drop me a line, if you want to learn more and have us help with moving your company to work culture 4.0.

Just had a great coffee time with Rita about Ikea’s trådlös Trådfri, sleep phases, dreams within dreams, and that weird thing where milk takes all the effect out of Fairy’s dish washing liquid. Can’t wait for the next round! - Otso

Hugs to

(If you wonder, why this section is called Hugs to instead of Acknowledgements, you should read more about Wunder's Hugsystem.)

Thanks to all first movers and early adopters at Wunder supporting, contributing and embracing this idea! In addition, the wave of hugs, which I have received for this idea, was an amazing surf! 

Your words and actions have greatly helped and pushed me and everyone else involved to refine the experiment, move it into "production" and keep the coffee hot, steaming and tasty!

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