How do we fill the "small conversation" gap in remote?

Question submitted by Steven

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You have to be intentional about it. For calls, especially 1:1 leave room at the beginning for just chit chat. As a leader make sure to ask how people are doing. Learn about their lives so you can check in with them and know other things that are going on in their lives outside of work : )

Weekly virtual happy hours can be great! Don’t be afraid to show your personality in communications through things like using the giphy integration for Slack :dancing_women: Any small interaction that can show people a bit about who you are will make them comfortable to do that same, and make off the cuff small conversations happen easier.

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Thanks Brooke! This is great advice I can definitely take to heart and use in my day-to-day, I do love me some Giphy/Slack, and leaving the room for chit chat at the beginning of calls is a great idea.

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For sure @stevenplapp! Also a #chit-chat channel in your Slack that has no other agenda, and not holding back on sending off-the-cuff DM’s.

Good questions to get people talking are to ask about new shows/movies/books/podcast/music. This can spark convos that create connections for people and this can roll into a culture of it being easier to have these small conversations that make working together fun :slight_smile:

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Definitely agree with making it intentional. Having a “watercooler” slack channel for silly stuff is good, also:

  • the Taco app in Slack lets you recognize coworkers, and you can give out real prizes to folks who give and receive the most “tacos”. Used this at a past job, and not only did it enforce positive chatter, it was just fun and got people in a silly mood
  • playing games like hangman in slack. There are game apps, but we had a channel that literally just posted underscores for blanks and others would guess. This evolved from a physical hangman game on a whiteboard when people moved to different parts of the office
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We have a bot that randomly pairs people up weekly for coffee times. Also, there are tools like Know Your Team that provide a regular stream of conversation starter questions. We also have a water cooler Zoom channel where people can just drop in when they want to chat; we often will announce when we’re looking for some water cooler time to help round up some attendance.

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There was a discussion a while back about starting a Discord server to be able to pop in and voice chat during the day if you wanted to. It would be something in between slack and starting a zoom call. I’d definitely be sitting in there most of the day if we had something like this.

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We have a bot that randomly pairs people up weekly for coffee times

What platform, and what bot?

That bot is a custom Rails app that draws its data from our custom time reporting app. If there’s interest, I can see if I can get more details out for people. Basically, it emails us weekly (Tuesday or Wednesday) to pair us up, supplying a scheduling link for the other person if they’ve registered one. It’s up to us to schedule, but there’s a pretty high follow through rate.

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Hello, I am very interested in learning more about this bot or app. I am currently researching ways that my organization can connect online since it’s the first time our organization has worked remotely. But my colleagues probably won’t be open to downloading an app. It has to be easy, accessible, and free if people are going to use it.

Does anyone know what other platforms or online tools that can schedule people randomly for virtual coffee chats? At the moment, everyone is just using Skype. Something similar to Skype would be ideal.

Thanks!
Teresa

I’ve actually seen bots similar to what @srvance is describing on Slack, here are two I found very quickly but haven’t actually tried myself:

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Thanks Nick! I will see if my organization would be open to trying these apps.