We’ve written in the past about Twitter‘s emergence as a platform for serious discourse, and it’s true that some serious discussions about technology, politics, religion, and all sorts of important issues are taking place twenty-four hours per day on Twitter. It’s also becoming an increasingly more important distribution point for breaking news. But we shouldn’t overlook the social benefit that Twitter has for people, especially those who work at home.

Last week, Chris Garrett wrote at The Blog Herald that Twitter is the new coffee break for home workers. “As more and more of us work remotely it is common to feel isolated or just miss out on the office banter we have grown used to,” wrote Garrett. Though most home workers stay connected to colleagues via instant messaging applications, email, and telephone, sometimes we want to take part in some non-work-related banter to relieve stress. Jason Calacanis would never approve but a mid-day social break can actually boost productivity by making sure you don’t get burned out.

And Twitter can provide a perfect setting for that virtual water cooler chit chat.

I find that during the day I only peripherally pay attention to the Twitter stream coming at me via Twhirl (my Twitter-client of choice), and every once in awhile something will pique my interest enough to jump in and join a conversation for a few minutes. The amount of conversations you can voyeuristically take part in over the course of the day via Twitter when you’re following just a handful of people is immense.

I’ve worked very few office jobs in my life, but the conversations I can eavesdrop on and take part in on Twitter often feel a lot like the coffee break banter that goes on in offices. Today, for example, an impromtu battle of colored “teams” broke out on Twitter where people joined “teams” to see who could gather the most followers. Blue, orange, red, yellow, pink, green, gold, off-white, and even plaid. That sure sounds like office-style shenanigans to me!

It’s easy to feel like part of an active community on Twitter with very little work, and that can be uplifting when you sit at home staring at a computer screen all day. Also be sure to check out Alex Iskold’s 5 Ways to Have Fun with Twitter When You’re Bored.