Written by Evelina StoianSep 11, 2017


No one loves distributed teams more than we do here at Upstack. But we are well aware of the challenges that sometimes face disbursed employee networks. Luckily we have talented and creative team members who have thought of great ways to overcome these obstacles.

Take small talk, for instance. We know, you're thinking, what does small talk have to do with team building? More than you think, actually. Not being in close proximity with each other means that remote workers miss out on the water cooler conversations that happen in typical office settings. This kind of chit chat, while not vital to each team member's success or productivity, it does do a lot for making people feel as if they are a part of team and boosting morale. Keep reading to learn more about the Slack bot we built to encourage comradery among our globally distributed team.


Meet Donut

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                                                                                                      Screenshot of the Upstack Slack bot, Donut in action

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                                                                                             Screenshot of the Upstack #virtualcoffee channel

We created a slack channel, #virtualcoffee, where team members are encouraged to chit chat and even share images of their morning coffee. This is a fun exercise because you'd be surprised how much you can learn about people's personalities from the cheekiness, or lack thereof, of an image or saying on their coffee mug. Donut randomly pairs members of the channel to schedule one on one in person or virtual social meetings over coffee, lunch, or donuts. After some time has passed Donut asks if you were able to schedule a time to meet as a friendly reminder.

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You have the option to say, "Yes", "It's scheduled", or "No". We should also mention that this exercise is completely voluntary, since making this sort of thing mandatory would be completely counterproductive. Team Members who don't want to be paired can simply leave the #virtualcoffeee channel. Once team members are able to schedule some time to chat, it proves to be a great way of connecting and helping them get to know each other. It's a time to share background about themselves, hobbies, passions, and our favorite, jokes. Because let's be honest - what's a good development team without inside jokes? But to be serious, never underestimate the power of social interaction outside of work to build closer knit teams which inevitably affects the productivity of those teams. The bonds that are created outside of work can be the glue that keeps a team together during high pressure work situations. If members feel like they are a part of the same team, it breeds collaborative as opposed to competitive mind sets which is essential to development work and any other work that is centered on elements of problem solving. It's these small details that keep our company working the way that it does.



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