How can you get today's busy and often competitive office team on the same page and all working together?  Put in a water cooler?

It is an Office Comedy staple – the water cooler conversation and it is art imitating life.  Perhaps it happens in your office?  Maybe you are into office gossip or maybe you’re not but there is new research that indicates it can be a good thing.

The brainy folks at Stanford University put more than 200 participants in various experiments and found that when a group  is focused on a common goal, most members will contribute for the common good.

However, there’s usually a few who don't pull their own weight and that is where the peer pressure of water cooler gossip kicks in.

As workers crack on the slacker, the word spreads and a wider group will align themselves with co-workers who contribute to the greater good, and exclude those they view as lazy or selfish.

In other words, Stanford will tell you that the right kind of water-cooler gossip can actually promote honest behavior and better work ethic among the troops. (UPI)