Why should you play Water Cooler with balanced teams?

  • We strongly recommend that you play Water Cooler Trivia using our balanced team feature
  • Having similarly sized, fair, teams of 4-5 playing against each other will maximize the amount of fun and connectivity experienced by your company
  • While playing using teams that mirror your company's divisions or geographies may be fun, it has downsides that can easily be avoided


From Water Cooler Trivia's introduction in 2018, it has always a game that focused on each individual's performance within their company's competition. Now, five years later, we are changing our tune on what makes the best Water Cooler Trivia experience. We hope our product improvements to enhance the team experience, but in the instance that you need additional convincing, we've put together this brief article on why your company should stop playing Water Cooler as individuals.

You should play in teams

The #1 reason we've made this change is better understanding what role Water Cooler Trivia plays at your organization now that we're on the backside of the COVID pandemic. Our trivia game is a replacement for the old water cooler. The kind of place where people would come together to enjoy each others' company. It wasn't a place to be competitive. It was a place that bonds were forged and your company's collective identity was strengthened. By moving to a teams focused game, we are doubling down on bringing your employees together and having them combine forces to achieve success.

The second reason is that innate trivia talent is not something that's evenly distributed amongst a company's employees. Over the course of the months and years that companies have been customers of Water Cooler, we have seen that there are 20-30% of users that really have a chance to win any given week.

The top 10% of our players win the game 50% of the time! While the top 30% win the game 81% of the time. The remaining 70% of people playing the game combined only win 19% of the time.

That means that the rest of your co-workers are playing a game that they're very unlikely to win individually. Yes, we vary the content greatly from week to week, but unfortunately it's not enough to even the playing field.

By grouping scores together, we give everyone at your company a better chance to be shown on the leaderboard and ultimately feel good about their contribution to their team.

You should play in fair teams

Ok, so we've convinced you to play in teams. Great. If you're like the vast majority of Water Cooler Trivia customers who have come to this conclusion, the first idea that comes to your mind is to separate your roster into functional areas: HR, Finance, Sales, Ops, etc. This is, of course, not a bad idea and if it something that you think works best for your company, then you should absolutely go for it.

However, we believe that there are three major downsides of using functional areas or geographies as a way to breakup your company.

1) These groups are often different sizes

Unless you are one of the most amazingly even companies in the world, each department at your company is going to have a different number of people. When you're assembling teams to play a game, having a team of 23 play against a team of 6 isn't exactly fun for either group. Frankly, even having a group of 4 play against a group of 6 isn't great. Across our game, the companies who use functional areas as a delimiter for teams have vastly different team sizes.

The largest teams in the average Water Cooler Trivia company make up almost 45% of a company's participants while the smallest team only comprises 12%

A fair set of teams would be one that allows for an even number of players on each.

2) The innate trivia talent amongst the teams is unlikely to be even

As we spoke about in the earlier section, one of the reasons that we're even embarking down this path is that people are different levels of good at trivia. And if you decide to manually create the teams, then you are unlikely to get even close to evenly distributing the trivia talent. Here's a look at the distribution of weekly winners amongst companies who are currently manually picking their teams:

The top team in a company wins 40% of the time. And the top three teams combined win 78% of the time! That means that all the other teams only win 22% combined.

Yes, the same teams win over and over again. And that doesn't help keep your co-workers engaged in the team building at all.

A fair set of teams would be one that even distributes trivia talent amongst them.

3) Water Cooler can help make connections outside standard office groups

Cliques. Yes. That's a word that you were thinking applied more to middle school rather than your company. But I'm not the first person to point out to you that your company has them. And ultimately they are not something we want to continue to support. They're not necessarily bad, but Water Cooler can help you take a step or two towards encouraging camaraderie amongst people who otherwise wouldn't necessarily spend time together. And we all know that this is a good thing.

A fair set of teams would ignore cliques and groups in how they are created.

Teams should be about 4 people

When we went about creating the concept of "fair" teams, we had to reckon with how many people would be on an ideal team. The balancing act here is that the teams need to be large enough that each individual member's contribution doesn't but them in the "spotlight" but not so big that each member's contribution is irrelevant.

The smallest team that we thought accomplished this feat was 3, however, each participant is still a bit too connected to the team's score at that point.

The largest team that we thought accomplished this feat was 5. And honestly, five could be the correct answer. However, we thought about 5-person Zoom calls and how they often end up ignoring certain people and causes them to disengage.

And thus, we believe that a fair set of teams would try to assemble as many teams of four as is possible.

On the back of all this, we now support the ability for you to create fair teams with just the click of a button. If you want to learn more about all the different ways teams work in Water Cooler then head over to this article to see how to create balanced teams for your company. Or if you're ready to give them a go, simply navigate to your company's teams page and click the "create balanced teams" button.

Each time you press that button, we make good on our promise to make Water Cooler Trivia as fun for as the most people in your company we possibly can.

It's important to add that you should feel free to balance the teams as frequently as appropriate for your group. We have found that some companies, in an attempt to group people together was as many of their co-workers as possible change the teams every week. Others, desiring to allow healthy competition and team pride to foster over time, change the teams every month or so. Whatever it means to keep things fresh for your company, we recommend!

Not the answer you needed? No worries, just contact us and we'll get you sorted.