How RITE created a virtual office on Gather that inspires and engages their hybrid team
Take a tour through the RITE team's virtual office on Gather. They've intentionally designed their Space to reflect their company values and create a place where all employees can build strong relationships and experience chance encounters with each other.
How RITE created a virtual office on Gather that inspires and engages their hybrid team
RITE is a hybrid PoS tech company primarily working with beer, wine, and liquor stores. Their flagship product is Cloud Retailer POS. They’re based in Minnesota with a distributed team around the world.
Facilitating teamwork and collaboration is really important to them, and they wanted to make sure that distributed employees were more than just a name.
“Before we started using Gather, we sat for 8 hours a day in a Google Meet just looking at each other’s faces. It was intimidating though, and more of a production. Gather is more casual to go chat rather than spending all day in a Google Meet or sending a link in Slack.” – Greg, Technical Support Manager at RITE
Now that they’ve built their office in Gather, the RITE team has a place where all employees can build strong relationships and experience chance encounters with each other.
We took a tour of their Space with Greg, a Technical Support Manager, and Tony, Head of Projects. We were really impressed with how intentionally they’ve designed their office and the customizations that have made it feel like their own.
“I could feel the RITE team’s culture as soon as I stepped into their virtual office. It’s clear they’re intentional about how they work and optimize for the team’s productivity, but also don’t take themselves too seriously. It feels like a great, balanced work environment.” — Morgan, Product Marketing Manager at Gather
Join us on this tour to help inspire your own Gather office design!
Greg was previously using Google Meet as a way to be readily available to his team throughout the workday. He liked providing them direct access so they could ask him questions, and ultimately see that they weren’t working alone even if they were working remotely.
This solution worked okay when their team was small. As the team size grew and Greg started managing more people, they started breaking into smaller all-day Google Meet groups. The problem was that moving between groups was cumbersome, and created a loss in productivity.
The day that Greg found Gather, he ended up playing around in it until 9pm. He then woke up early the next morning and completed their office before everyone came online.
Transparently, he was a little worried about introducing Gather to non-gamers on their team. He wondered if he’d have to convince them that yes - it is a business tool.
“Anybody who questioned Gather at first had their doubts quickly erased when they saw how powerful of a tool it was.” – Greg, Technical Support Manager at RITE
Now, even the team members who were skeptical are engaged in the Space and doing fun things. Greg said someone has a dog, and they love to decorate their desks and team areas for the holidays– especially because they don’t have the real-world responsibility of having to clean it all up.
"So I have to admit - my first reaction to Gather was 'What is this? It looks like a game.' But after using it for just a couple days, it's hard to imagine work without it now. It's easy to pop in and give a quick hello without the formality of having to initiate a Google Meet." - Nicole, Admin & Billing at RITE
And compared to using Google Meet all day, Gather is “so much better.”
“In Gather, everyone is still available if you want to run over quickly and ask a question, but you don’t need to be on a call the whole time.” – Greg, Technical Support Manager at RITE
Designing an engaging and intentional virtual office
Today, the RITE Gather Space is loosely based on their actual office in Minnesota, with some creative liberties of course: a bridge into the entryway, Yoda in a conference room, and velociraptors in the parking lot, just to name a few.
RITE has embraced uploading custom objects to Gather in order to create a really custom Space. In their words, “everybody’s a nerd,” and the custom objects have become a way for each team to show off their individual personality.
“When we first got this going, we set aside time for people to personalize the Space.”– Greg, Technical Support Manager at RITE
For example, the Sales team is really into Doctor Who, so they uploaded a TARDIS in their team area.
Beyond all the quirky objects, RITE’s virtual office is filled with practical tips that we recommend to Space designers.
Their team areas are color-coded with the floor tiles and labeled with text for a quick visual of who’s who. It helps everyone know exactly where to go when you need to talk to someone in a specific team.
They’ve also labeled the desks with each person’s name so you know exactly where everyone sits. The desks are a place where members of the support team can go when they’re on the phone with customers. It’s a way to signal that they’re online and working, but talking with a customer and can’t be disturbed right now.
They have a bulletin board in a conference room where they put morning announcements every day. It creates a nice consistent place for any employee to walk up and read important updates, without having to sort through a bunch of Slack messages or emails.
They also use this to link to documents with their OKRs and yearly goals. They have a policy of transparency and open access in their company, and linking these in Gather makes it easy for everyone to view.
They have flags hanging on the walls to represent the countries where team members are located. If you interact with a flag, it contains a note with a list of employees from that country, giving that context of where teammates are based.
And my personal favorite: They’ve added their company core values on the main hallway with text. As people move throughout the Space, they’re constantly seeing these little reminders of their team culture.
This long hallway in the middle of the office also acts as a natural place that people run into each other. It connects many of the conference rooms and team areas, so it gets a lot of foot traffic.
“I personally like having those ‘bump into someone’ conversations in-person, and have actually had it happen in Gather as well. I ran into one of our Admin team members on my way to meet with the CEO, and got to catch up real quick before I entered his office in Gather.” – Greg, Technical Support Manager at RITE
Bridging the virtual and physical office
After the initial team adoption of Gather, Greg invited the leadership team in to check out how they were meeting and building company culture.
The CEO absolutely loved it, and wanted to bridge the gap between people working in the physical office and people working in Gather.
To do this, they mounted a tv in a hallway in their physical office where they display the Gather office all day. There’s a camera attached, so anyone working in the office for the day can wave to the remote employees, and anyone in Gather can walk up and see what’s going on in Minnesota.
It helps bridge the gap between anyone working remotely and anyone in the office that day.
They do keep the sound off, however, so noise from the Gather office doesn’t become too distracting!
Advice for other teams using Gather
As we listened to Greg and Tony describe their Space and how it’s changed since they started using Gather, two things were very clear:
One: They’re not afraid to make changes to their Space. They embrace how easy it is to add and remove objects, and use this to their advantage to keep the space engaging and productive for their team.
“Gather has led to strong team relationships, and we’re always looking for new ways to engage the team in our Space or re-design our area to increase productivity and collaboration.”– Greg, Technical Support Manager at RITE
Two: They have fun with it. While Gather is largely used for meetings and collaboration, it’s also a place where the team can get to know each other and build stronger relationships.
For example, they started a game of “Where’s Waldo” that bridges the in-person and Gather offices. In the real office, someone on the team hides Waldo in the camera frame that streams into the virtual office. Once a remote employee finds it, someone in the office will move it again. It’s a fun little Easter Egg game they play in the background of their workday.
A bonus tip from Greg: If you’re looking for an April Fool’s prank to pull on your team, he placed a bunch of impassable tiles throughout the Space, forcing everyone to guess what secret route they needed to take to their meetings.
“As each person figured out the impassable tiles, they’d zoom out the map to laugh and watch others try to get around. It was a great team bonding moment!” – Greg, Technical Support Manager at RITE
In summary: Don’t take it too seriously. Gather gives you a way to bring a little bit of this chaotic energy back to your remote team, helping them share experiences and build better relationships.