Coffee Corner or Career Corner?

By, 12/04/2012

Break room, lunch room, water cooler, coffee pot ... It comes in as many forms as there are businesses: the area you and your colleagues go for a quick refresh during the workday. These areas are great for networking and mental relaxation while preventing rumbling stomachs and parched throats. The personal benefits are obvious, but did you know water cooler behavior can also positively affect your career?

Starting a friendly conversation in the lunch room could lead to a useful professional connection. Have a particularly difficult problem? Walking away for a quick cup of water could refresh your palette and your mind—potentially leading to a long-sought solution. And who doesn’t like the person refilling the coffee pot when it runs dry? Little tasks, even as simple as wiping off the counter, can make you stand out as a team player.

But a quick note of caution: Break room behavior can be a career boost, but some behavior (like lingering too long, too often or too much gossip) can set you back. So, keep in mind “on break” isn’t the same as “off work.” Professionalism by the water cooler is as beneficial as friendliness—and the combination can take you far.