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Idle Chatter?

Probably not. Those slacker workers by the water cooler may just be working.

The daily ritual of co-workers chatting at the company watering hole is less rumor-driven and more productive than you might think. According to a December 1999 survey of 150 Fortune 1000 executives, office gossip accounted for only 9 percent of issues discussed.

The poll-developed by OfficeTeam, a specialized administrative staffing firm in Menlo Park, California, and based on observations of and interactions between executives and employees-reveals that nearly 40 per-cent of water-cooler dialogue deals with business. The results, says Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam, "indicate [employees] are very ambitious and passionate about their careers."

Maybe employers would benefit from restocking paper cups in abundance. Says Domeyer, "Impromptu conversations that arise outside of [conventional] workspace often spawn valuable ideas."


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This story appears in the June 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »