Today, we’re launching Donut Watercooler, our latest creation designed to foster the serendipitous conversations that we used to enjoy in the office around the actual watercooler, without burdening your calendar with yet another video call or leaving out colleagues in a different time zone. Donut does this by regularly posting topics that inspire lively conversations and friendly debates in a Slack channel of your choosing.
A Paradox: Isolation and Zoom Fatigue
When everyone began working from home, people wanted more frequent Donut Intros to colleagues than ever (as many as daily!) to combat the isolation of working from home — isolation that has very real consequences. Connected employees are 300% more likely to say they love their company and companies with engaged employees outperform those without them by 202%. However, we quickly discovered a paradox: while so many of us are feeling isolated and disconnected, we’re also suffering from Zoom fatigue as we live our entire lives on constant video calls. The obvious solution to one problem only exacerbates the other.
What We Learned: Micro-Interactions
After speaking extensively with customers about their challenges, and living through our own over the past few months, we learned a few key lessons:
While it’s obvious that we miss the office because we miss the people, the most acute need is more specific than that: when working remotely it is most difficult to replicate the daily interactions we take for granted in an office. Micro-interactions like saying hello in the morning, chatting with your desk neighbor, and grabbing lunch with your team transform coworkers into friends over time, compounding social interactions with minimal deliberate effort into deep bonds.
Social interactions may be important, but there’s a clear upper limit on how many video calls you can schedule in a day without losing it, so we knew we needed to create something that didn’t solely rely on video calls.
Besides Zoom fatigue, another problem with video calls soon emerged: We consistently heard from our customers that as they become more distributed across time zones we needed to prioritize solutions that would help people form relationships asynchronously.
A new way to connect: Introducing Donut Watercooler
With Watercooler, Donut will regularly post topics that inspire fun, revealing, or thoughtful conversations in the Slack channel of your choosing, from light-hearted conversation starters to thought-provoking questions, such as:
- What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
- What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been? (Bonus: post a pic!)
- What’s your favorite form of potato?
- What’s a hobby or activity you’ve picked up in the last couple months?
- What’s one thing you’ve learned in your career that you wish you knew sooner?
Netflix was part of our limited-access beta, and Donut Watercooler sparked new conversations and camaraderie through Slack in an inclusive way with a low barrier to participation. “Watercooler has drawn even the most silent members to engage and I couldn’t be happier with it,” said Babak Andishmand, Product Support Manager at Netflix.
It’s also great for remote teams that span multiple time zones because it allows for asynchronous participation. Teammates can share personal anecdotes, photos, or even relevant GIFs in the Watercooler channel anytime they’re available throughout the workday, which makes it easy for others to catch up when they can.
Donut Watercooler takes just 5 minutes to set up, and requires little to no effort on an ongoing basis, something that was important to users during a time when we’re all strapped for time and attention.
“Watercooler has drawn even the most silent members to engage and I couldn’t be happier with it.”Babak Andishmand
Netflix, Product Support Manager
Thank You, Donut Community
We wouldn’t be here without support from the diverse community of people using Donut around the globe, and $12M in funding from world-class investors including Accel, Bloomberg Beta, FirstMark, Slack Fund, and the founders of companies like Envoy, InVision, and Codecademy, which we’re sharing for the first time today. Their backing will continue to accelerate product innovation, growth, and the value we deliver to everyone using Donut.
At Donut, our mission is to create meaningful human connection at work, and 2020 has challenged us to find even more creative and inclusive ways to bring people together, but we are more committed to the cause than ever before. Since the world abruptly went fully remote in March, the number of businesses that use Donut has doubled to over 12,000, and we’ve made over 1 million connections for companies that include dozens of the Fortune 500, and brands from Toyota to The New York Times. By making purposeful introductions within Slack, Donut allows coworkers to get to know one another over one-on-one or group conversations. Leaders at companies like Axios, GitLab, HotelTonight, NPR, Okta and Zapier, have all shared their excitement for Donut. Watercooler is just the next step in our journey to help organizations all over the world foster human connection that drives camaraderie, community, and collaboration.
You can try Donut Watercooler today for free by adding Donut to your Slack workspace. We’d love to hear more about your team’s evolving needs, as well as your questions and feedback on Watercooler specifically. Just give us a shout by hitting the purple button in the lower right-hand corner of the page and selecting “I need help with something.”
Reporters can reach out at [email protected] to learn more.