The office was once a place of spontaneity prior to the pandemic, with impromptu brainstorm sessions and post-work happy hours. Now, remote working has completely transformed how we think of the workplace, and the purpose it will serve in the coming years.
This has opened up a window of opportunity for a new type of office: a virtual one. Startups have scurried to create the best virtual offices for distributed teams, including Branch, Gather and Huddle.
All of these platforms are working to build a world that taps into multiplayer gaming culture, while providing the productivity tools and resources needed to keep the workplace engaged.
Branch is a startup that hopes to find a balance between work and play.
Branch’s virtual HQ features the traditional areas you’d see at your office: meeting rooms, lunch tables, a watercooler and even succulents on desks.
Then there’s Gather, which is one of the largest virtual HQ platforms at the moment. It has features such as “shoulder taps” to chat with coworkers, and even pool tables for employees to unwind during the day.
“You don’t need to worry about constantly worrying about if you’re being seen or not, but you will hear anyone who tries to come and talk to you,” said Phillip Wang, the founder of Gather.
Wang and his friends have been working to build Gather for around 18 months, even trying apps and VR to see which friends were available to chat. When the pandemic hit, the chance to tape into the workplace market became evident.