Hydrating your staff

Published on 12 August 2009 in , , , , ,

It’s been kinda interesting reading the stories in the press about the BBC and its water cooler bill.

The first thing that, if you don’t read it right, it’s a slightly misleading story in the way it’s portrayed as we’re talking about water coolers with their giant 18 litre bottles, not bottles of mineral water.

But that aside, what struck me was the size of the bill. Given the BBC is roughly 40,000 people at any one time, plus visitors, guests and other contributors, we’re talking the BBC spending less than £10 a head on water coolers – all in the name of keeping its staff hydrated. Which is, of course, a good thing to do.

Such figures are hardly excessive, but are, of course, more expensive than tap water. Even if the BBC is on a water meter!

In the building I work in, that’s what we use. We have kitchen areas with a drinking water tap which provides filtered and chilled mains water. Indeed there is only one area I know of in the whole building which has a water cooler and that’s the cafe where there is no convenient sink/water tap.

The Broadcast Centre is less than ten years old and has been designed with such things in mind. Older offices aren’t.

Even the relatively new White City building (built in the late 1980s) ended up with very limited kitchen provision. Getting a drink of water meant wandering around the building trying to find one of the randomly placed taps – often located in the toilet! TV Centre is even worse.

So the BBC put water coolers in so people could get water when they needed it. Got to be honest, I’ve worked on the presumption that the cost of a water cooler is substantially cheaper than the cost to the business of people wandering round corridors just to get an ice cold glass of the wet stuff.

Mind you, not all water provision has been totally sensible all the time. Many years ago when I worked at Bush House, we were given a water cooler. Except there was a mains fed drinking water fountain a few metres away! Thankfully that scenario ended not long after it began…

White City building is, incidentally, being refurbished. One of the things they’ve added in are kitchen areas with sinks and microwaves, which of course, reduces the number of water coolers you need. Although for my mind, they still need to put a drinking water tap in the main canteen…


  • Mr Anonymous says:

    Last year we had our many water coolers removed and replaced by a single, extremely slow to dispense vending machine that provides water (and other free drinks).
    By slow I mean it takes 30 sec to fill a 200ml plastic cup.
    A lot of us note that we now have more headaches and feel more dehydrated as a result…

  • Office workers need plenty of cold water because air conditioning units really suck the moisture out of us, big style

  • Hamaliya says:

    we need to see the 19 liters cooler’s full picture instead of the bottle’s picture. so please send us the full picture of cooler for 19 liter bottles at our e-mail as soon as possible please.

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    Yes, well, quite.