Any business owner will tell you that water coolers are an absolute bane in the office. It’s the one place where all the hens cluck about the latest raunchy details on the office slut or where the boys congregate to trade fist bumps and boisterous laughter minutes before Friday ends.
A few months ago, I’ve made the transition from being just your average employee to being a small business owner and after hiring my first few employees I was immediately faced with the decision of putting a drinking trough for my jittery staff. I vacillated between models, makes and the temptation of doing away with this fount of idleness.
As an employee, the water dispenser was a valid excuse to wet my chapped lips or an attempt to wash away the incoherence that invariably strikes me as I keep losing staring matches with my blinking cursor and empty screen. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:
Think about your office space.
While I had plenty of good advice from the local salesmen and a few friends who’ve been in my shoes before, any small business should think about office space. I may not be the handiest of men but take a long hard look at your layout before choosing a model.
Mains-fed units are best for offices where the taps are fairly clean and the number of employees served can easily justify the cost. If you’re short on floor space, you’ll get more value if you can select a counter-top model.
Bottled water dispensers are particularly nifty to have if you’ve but a handful of people on payroll. The only downside is that you have to have plenty of storage for the containers that can easily pile up; depending on the volume you’ll have delivered each week. I’ve found that bottle racks (yes the ones that stack three bottles atop each other) to be particularly useful.
Get a hot water dispenser.
The first office I rented out had a small pantry where I can easily meet my plucky little staff for lunch. Come tea time, some of them hung around as they waited for their water to boil. As an employee, I’ve spent quite a bit of time warming up my coffee to vaporize my Monday morning blues or the usual mid-week hangovers.
I cannot tell you how many times my former boss’s glare nearly melts me on that same spot, at least twice daily. Though she’d hardly say anything, you can cut the tension in the air with a dull knife.
The compromise, as I’ve found later on, is that it’s a must have to get a good office water dispenser to have hot water always on the ready. When there’s no excuse to stand around longer than necessary, my staff can readily get back to work. There are no awkward moments and I can have better productivity.
As a small business owner, what’s your preferred solution? Let me know and join the discussion below.
Between guzzling coffees and breathing down his employees’ necks, Beant writes for wateringwell.co.uk, a major provider of water dispenser and water cooler products across the country.