No, we’re not talking about that kind of random.
Humans are social creatures. We all need to interact with other people. And we meet our social quota through random, unplanned interactions throughout the day—smiling at someone on the train, saying “Hi!” to a colleague, or chatting on the phone with a friend.
If you’re working remotely, you may miss out on some of these social moments. In fact, according to OWL Labs, 48% of remote workers reported missing in-office conversations, while 40% missed the in-person celebrations that happen in an office setting. When employees are working from a distant location, they feel the loss of in-person communication.
That’s because those impromptu team lunches or coffee breaks that happen in a physical office are more important than we realize. Random social interactions actually make us happier. A group of researchers studying commuter habits found that people who made connections with strangers on the train “not only [felt] as though they had a more pleasant commute, but they felt better overall—and they didn’t feel like they were any less productive.” Those small, seemingly insignificant social connections we make every day can help us become happier and more positive, and—in a workplace setting—make us more engaged and productive.
But how do I drop in and talk to my colleague if he lives in Beijing and I live in London? Clayton Moulynox of Auth0 found a creative solution to this problem in randomized meetings. Here’s what he had to say about boosting his team’s social activity:
“Every second Monday a Slackbot (an app inside Slack, the messaging platform) randomly matches employees together in groups of three to encourage them to meet up for a coffee or donuts.
We use this for all employees across the company, whether they’re remote or work from one of our offices. That means people are matched all over the world in different timezones, and so it’s very common to share a coffee over a video conference call. If you happen to be matched with someone in your location then they usually meet up in real life.
Just thirty minutes of an agenda-less chat is encouraged. It’s not meant to be a work related call…but it could turn into one. It’s not supposed to be a personal speed-date…but sometimes that’s how it evolves. The point of it is to get to know someone better than you probably did, build some rapport, a new connection. We deliberately do it in groups of three as it just makes it a little easier for conversation flow…and if someone can’t make it, you can still proceed with two.”
Working in Sococo is another powerful way to encourage impromptu socializing and collaboration within your remote team. Teammates can gather in a virtual water cooler space to chat, or pop into a breakout room with a colleague to catch up. No need to plan a formal team building activity or force everyone onto a video conference—social interactions happen naturally in Sococo.