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Online coffee-dates and other ways to stay socially active when remoting

Zane Abelite-Medne
By Zane Ābelīte-Medne

Is there a term “remote socializing”? We dare to declare that there is! And we as well dare to say that there are plenty of things you can do still together with your friends and colleagues without being in the same room.

Developer in a protective mask, with a laptop and coffee cup

The term “remote work” becomes more and more common and that’s not only because people are suggested to work from their home offices but also because the technologies allow us to do that. Remote working is a significant part of Wunder’s DNA and doesn’t rise a lot of questions, but how about one’s social life? Is there a term “remote socializing”? We dare to declare that there is! And one’s social life shouldn’t be crossed out of the daily routine just because of the restrictions that suggest to cut off any physical contact possible. And we also dare to say that there are plenty of things you can do still together with your friends and colleagues without being in the same room. I will share some of the thoughts and ideas we have here in Wunder, but let me start with some truths first.

The truth behind the remoting

It is a truth that in most traditional companies, you can wander into the kitchen or lunch area to enjoy the change of scenery and have watercooler conversations with your peers. In Wunder’s case, we have to take into account that the company is spread across 3 countries and 6 offices, therefore, unfortunately, some kitchens feel fairly lonesome, even more, if working remotely.

Another truth – usually, we are very focused when working remotely – we tend to avoid any non-professional interruptions, and put our meetings into strict time-boxes. This is all great for productivity. But it hardly provides space and time to get to know each other better on a personal level, and on professional aspects that are not directly related to the project you are working on together.

And last but not least, investing in face-to-face time deepens our professional and personal relationships which are as well benefit from the business point of view. You gain a way better understanding of your colleagues and built a trustful and respectful relationship which can be a huge time-saver (and sometimes even a life-saver) when working on a team.

Considering all these truths we really encourage our Wunderers to strengthen their personal connections, even more, if they choose to work remotely. There are several ways how we “bring people together”, but the one I’d love to share this time is The Coffee Time initiative or in other words – a simple solution on how to stay in touch as a distributed One Company.

Wunder Coffee Time

The Coffee Time initiative was invented in Wunder more than 2 years ago. It was after the WunderCon (our annual company-wide gathering) where all 130+ Wunderers had a chance to spend a few marvelous days side by side with their teammates. Catching up with old colleagues and getting to know the new ones is always amazing. To keep up the team spirit and feeling of togetherness also after the event, one of our Wunderers came up with a solution. He created a special channel in our Slack workspace and used a pairing app Donut to arrange regular half-an-hour meetings for those willing to strengthen the connections across the company.

How does it work?

It’s fairly simple:

  • everyone interested in the activity makes sure they are following the #coffee-time channel on Slack
  • every member of this channel gets paired every other week with someone else
  • paired persons arrange a coffee call somewhen during the upcoming 2 weeks
  • and enjoy a conversation over a cup of coffee or tea

If people are busy or accidentally forget about the meeting, Donut is there to remind about that.

What do we talk about?

Practically everything, but work itself. Sure, one can find out what the other person is doing at the company or currently working on, but most of all this is a time to get to know each other as a person. Hobbies and interests, life learnings and hacks, favorite movies and books, all that you can think of to talk with a friend.

Coffee time in numbers

1121 intros

made of all time

568 pairs

met in all time

50 %

Wunderers participated the activity at least once

Time to think outside the box

But hey, you don’t need a special app or tool to stay social while physical meetings are not available or recommended. Use your imagination and soon enough you will come up with genius ideas on how to keep doing the things that you love and who knows – will discover a completely different angle on your favorite activities. Here come some remote socializing suggestions from our Wunderers:

  • Set coffee/ lunch or even dinner dates – just like you use to meet friends over a coffee, set a time for a Zoom (or similar app) call and have a coffee or even a meal together.
  • Organize a movie night with your friends by using Kast or a similar app.
  • Stay active – call your trainer and ask if she/he can make an online training session.
  • Set an online book club – organize online reading sessions and share the findings afterward.
  • Play games online and use Discord to stay in touch with your peers.
  • Learn something new – MOOC sites like Coursera, Udemy and similar offer thousands of great topics to study. Choose the ones with a peer-learning opportunity to have more interaction with other course mates or invite a friend to join the course and do your homework together.
  • Challenge your friends – create a closed group and set up a challenge of the day/ week/ month. Share fun pictures, gifs or videos and have fun commenting them.
  • Start a new hobby – something you have always wanted to do or just contrary – newer thought of doing. Singing, songwriting, mandala drawing, dog training, you name it. There is an online community behind almost every activity – whether a public site or a Facebook group (or both).

People’s connections are way stronger than some external matters. In every challenge, there is an opportunity, so let’s take this time to try, learn and do something unusual. You might discover new information about well-known topics, see your friends from a different perspective or even learn about new angles of your personality. Just remember, whatever you decide to do on-line, take care of your own and your peer safety.

Enjoy socializing even if it is a remote one!