Water Cooler Talk: Weather, “Game of Thrones,” Football Dominate Office Chatter

55% admit to faking interest in water cooler topics they discuss just to get through the workday

Men standing at water cooler in office

While actual water coolers may have dropped by the wayside, pop-culture, TV, sports and the always safe weather (“Hey, can you believe how nice out it is?”) and weekend plans (“Doing anything fun this weekend?”) still dominate office chatter.

The majority of respondents (72%) said they’ve discussed their weekend plans or the weather outside with colleagues during the workday, followed by sports (44%), according to a recent Captivate Office Pulse survey on the most popular trends of water cooler discussion among white-collar business professionals.

Which water cooler topics do you discuss with your colleagues during the workday?

Network TV

However, just because your colleague is having a conversation with you, it doesn’t mean they necessarily care about the topic at hand – or even know what you’re talking about. Over half (55%) of business professionals admit they’ve faked interest or knowledge in a water cooler topic (like sports, TV or politics) with a colleague or client. Why? 54% said they were trying to be nice, while 31% said “it’s just easier.” An additional 9% said they want to seem “in-the-know” with others around the office.

The majority of respondents (74%) said they view the water cooler as a means to break up the work day. Breaks have been shown to keep workers focused and help them retain information. Casual conversations at the office are also essential to cohesion among employees, productivity and job satisfaction.

While certain topics tend to dominate office discussion, others are often left out entirely. Personal compensation was the most unpopular topic at the water cooler; 67% of respondents admitted that they avoid the topic in conversation circles. Additionally, politics (47%), office gossip (36%) and personal-life drama (34%) are generally avoided in conversation.

Tuning in: Popular TV Trends Among Professionals

Television is a popular conversation topic around the water cooler. 36% of business professionals said they regularly discuss network TV during the work day, and 27% discuss shows streamed over the internet.

Top TV shows discussed around the water cooler

Game of Thrones: 48%
The Walking Dead: 26%
Bachelor/Bachelorette: 18%
Scandal: 12%

Overall, the TV show most regularly discussed in water cooler circles is Game of Thrones, according to 48% of respondents, followed by The Walking Dead (26%), The Bachelor/Bachelorette (18%) and Scandal (12%). With the popularity of television discussion inevitably comes the spoilers. 26% of respondents said they make an effort to shush a coworker engaged in spoiler-ridden conversation.

Streaming services also compete for popularity among professionals. Netflix is the preferred video subscription service among business professionals (67%), holding a sizable lead over other popular services including Amazon Prime (50%), cable TV (48%), HBO Now (31%) and Hulu (16%).

Overall, 31% of professionals said they catch up on their favorite show or a sports game during office hours. Of them: 3% “regularly” catch up, 13% do it “sometimes” and 15% do it, but only during their break.

Other insights include:

The office kitchen has become the modern-day water cooler:

  • 15% have left a room to avoid being spoiled about a TV show from a coworker
  • 12% have showed up late to work because they’ve stayed up late watching their favorite show or sports game
  • Other talked about shows around the office include: Empire (9%), American Horror Story (8%), The Big Bang Theory (8%) and The Voice (8%)
  • 7% live in a virtual world, claiming that their work IM or email is the place for water cooler talk


When it comes to watching sports, football is king; 27% of professionals said they watch the National Football League, while 34% said they are most likely to discuss the NFL at the water cooler. Additionally, Major League Baseball (11%) and the National Basketball Association (10%) rounded out the top three most watched sports by business professionals.

About Office Pulse

Office Pulse by Captivate offers marketers timely analysis and insights from a proprietary panel of upscale professionals in the top markets. The Office Pulse panel of more than 8,000 influential consumers and business decision makers includes C-level executives, Millennials, middle management, small business owners, working women and working moms.

About Captivate

Known for its vast network of nearly 12,000 elevator displays located in 1,600 premier office buildings across North America, Captivate connects advertisers with 13 million unique monthly viewers through creative, research-driven and Nielsen-measured advertising and marketing programs. By engaging its viewers with timely news and actionable information that helps balance the personal and professional demands of the workday, Captivate provides advertisers with a highly desirable and difficult-to-reach audience of affluent and influential business professionals. Founded in 1997, Captivate is owned by Generation Partners. For more information, please visit www.captivate.com.