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Brief Published: 18 Dec 2020

Brands Create Casual Socialising for Remote Workers


Workplace friendships have struggled during Covid-19, as many consumers have shifted to working from home (WFH) – 64% of Brits have found it hard to maintain office connections this year (Cisco, 2020). We spotlight the digital brands helping to combat Zoom fatigue and isolation resulting from remote working.

  • Creating the Virtual Office: As we explore in New-Era Living, Covid-19 lifestyle changes have created a funnelling effect, causing consumers to prioritise close friendships to the detriment of spontaneous connections, like colleague connections. 
    New London-based start-up Cosmos aims to tackle this with its virtual office platform. Businesses create a virtual venue, including desks and meeting spaces, and workers are assigned an avatar. To recreate the feel of an IRL (in real life) office, staff can hear their colleagues via video link, and are prompted to communicate via pop-up chat boxes if their avatars get close.
    While Cosmos already features virtual whiteboards for teamworking, the platform hopes to integrate other online applications – such as Google Docs – to streamline remote collaboration.
  • Digitising Watercooler Chats: In October, Berlin-based workplace communication start-up Donut launched its new product Watercooler. The tool encourages colleagues to socialise and recreate casual conversations that would arise from working in close proximity. Hosted on widely used office communication platform Slack, users pick an existing team conversation channel, select from a list of conversation topics (or create their own), and Watercooler then prompts conversations by posing a question. 
    By asking short, easily answered questions (e.g. what’s the most beautiful place you’ve visited?), the platform aims to boost workplace micro-interactions. The question remains on the channel, allowing international workers to join in.
    For $49 (£37) per month, businesses can provide staff with Watercooler across unlimited channels.