How a Remote Design Company Keeps Connected with Virtual Team Happy Hours
The West Coast-based Hatch Design uses Kumospace, an online immersive virtual event platform, for weekly team socials.
At the start of the pandemic, Laila Moire-Selvage and her colleagues were feeling restless with the move from their San Francisco office headquarters to remote work. As the Creative Services Manager for the design and branding company Hatch Design an essential part of Laila’s position is keeping her co-workers connected and engaged.
“The team was definitely feeling the Zoom fatigue. It felt like the Brady Bunch with all these little talking heads, and it was hard to have natural conversations,” she says.
Laila discovered an article about Kumospace, the immersive virtual event platform that mimics real-life interaction using spatial audio, and decided to try it with her colleagues. “It's definitely been a great tool for us,” she says.
Since mid-2020, Laila has been using Kumospace with her co-workers to host their weekly team socials called Thirsty Thursdays. The regular event is a throwback from her days at the Hatch Design headquarters when the company would buy wine or beer for the team every week and encourage everyone to kick back with a drink. “It was really a way to just decompress from the work week, and have some camaraderie,” Laila says. Now they still host the weekly team social but online in Kumospace.
“Kumospace has been a great way to catch up with people I haven't seen in a long time. Or just talk to people I don't typically talk to in an office setting… We love all the different templates. We love all the hidden gems you find as you click through the space. And we’re a branding agency so the designers were very excited to have something visually stimulating.”
For Laila, these experiences have been especially meaningful because in the early days of the 2020 lockdown she really missed her colleagues.
“I know it's cliche, but we really kind of like a family. I've made some life-long friends at the company,” she says. “And that's probably been my least favorite thing about working remotely is that we don't have that great interaction. Kumospace really has been that bridge of something close to that, even though now we're all apart and so many of us are in different states.”
Her team enjoys hopping in and out of seasonal templates and have especially been experimenting with Kumospace’s custom spaces feature, where hosts can design their own space with custom flooring and virtual furniture and add an interactive jukebox, pianos, a YouTube TV, or custom images.
“Right now we have our custom Hatch Design space, and we play around in there a lot,” says Laila. “The space is an outdoor setting that’s filled with plants. Our designer Sasha created it, and she loves plants… at the office her desk was filled with something like 50 plants.”
Hatch Design's Kumospace is filled with playful gifs and hangout spots like a bar that features virtual drinks and a piano that plays music. Laila will often spend time by the piano and listen to a song while she’s waiting for Thirsty Thursday to kick off.
“We love playing with the interactive White Board, and we have plans to play CodeNames… The interactive elements really bring out curiosity and exploration. People talk about it, and it serves as an icebreaker that makes people relax a bit and chit chat with people they haven’t spoken with one-on-one or in a smaller group. ”
She adds that working remotely has been a huge shift because there’s less separation from work and home-life, and sometimes it’s been harder to find balance.
“Kumospace has been really a wonderful reprieve from the monotony of being on Slack and Zoom client calls — and to have this separate space it has been so great… It really is a lovely place to let people let loose a little bit, just have fun and play, which is so needed. I do see people naturally go into different huddles. It's not anything planned. It just feels like you're in a space where people can wander around. It's really as close as you could get to an in-person situation virtually.”