How Kambr Joined the Metaverse Thanks to Gather
In the beginning of 2022, a colleague at Kambr came across a platform that would drastically change the way we communicate internally as a distributed team.
What started with curiosity and experimentation became the main way of communication internally. This platform is called Gather, a tool for online communication that allows you to connect by text, voice or video.
So far, it sounds like any other communication tool you have used, right? The difference is in the dynamics of how you connect. But, before we elaborate on how we can connect with Gather, let’s recap how communication traditionally works.
The Traditional Way
In the most traditional communication tools, we can either send a text message or make a video call. And I would like to emphasize this word — “call.” In order to talk to someone, you have to call them.
Have you ever asked if it was ok to call? Or have you ever thought that you were interrupting if you were calling? That’s a feeling most of us have had. And one of the main obstacles when communicating remotely according to Kambrians (what we call our colleagues within Kambr 😃 ).
Calls are a barrier. Not only a “physical” barrier, but also a psychological barrier. You don’t want to disturb.
Another issue with traditional communication tools is the way they segregate conversations. Let’s think about this situation in a software development company:
- A bug arises in production.
- Someone alerts via a text message group chat that includes all the developers.
- John, one of the developers, replies in the group and calls another developer, Mary, to discuss the issue.
- A third developer, Henrique, sees the messages 10 minutes later, and he knows the cause. He replies in the group chat.
- John and Mary are already in a call, they don’t see the message in the group chat. Henrique can see that both developers are in a call, but he cannot join. He sends a message asking to join, but the other developers don’t see it immediately.
- Meanwhile, Felipe, a junior developer, sees there’s a bug, he has no clue how to solve it and he would like to listen to the conversation for learning and brainstorming, if applicable. He cannot join the conversation and he also doesn’t want to disturb or interrupt by asking to join.
Have you been through a similar situation? I have faced similar situations often in the past two years since working remotely. Calls are a barrier. Not only a “physical” barrier, but also a psychological barrier. You don’t want to disturb.
The Gather Way
And that’s what Gather is good at. Gather mitigates this issue by changing the way we connect within the platform.
It is like a game, a very simple game. You have your avatar and you can walk around a virtual space that resembles an office. Everyone is together in an 8-bit fully customizable world.
You have your desk in an open space and you have meeting rooms. Connecting is as simple as walking towards someone. Connecting is as easy as it would be in the physical world.
Gather functions by defining public and private spaces. Within a public space, approaching someone by walking towards that person’s avatar is enough for connecting with them. Within private spaces, everyone is connected.
Your personal desk is a private space. If someone walks near you, but doesn’t cross the line of your private space they won’t be able to see/talk to you and you won’t be able to see/talk to them. As soon as they enter your private space, a connection automatically begins.
That’s the beauty of Gather. You don’t need to call in order to connect and you don’t need to hang up in order to disconnect. Communication gets closer to reality because the dynamics of talking to someone is similar to how it would be done in person. Besides that, it’s easy to know when someone is available, in a meeting, or focusing.
If someone is at their desk, it usually means they are free to talk. If they are in a private booth, it means they are not available to talk and if they are in a meeting room, you can assess the situation by looking at who is in the meeting room and if it makes sense to interrupt them or not. If you are inside a meeting room and don’t wan’t to be interrupted, you can just close the door to alert others that this meeting is private.
The KambrVerse was designed to resemble an airport. When a new Kambrian joins the company, they first arrive at the front door of the airport where they can see all of their colleagues nationalities represented by respective country flags:
In order to get to the office, which is located in the Kambr plane, they need to go through the Check-in, Security and Boarding area and once they are inside the plane, they will find all of their colleagues hanging out there.
They might be at their personally customized desks:
Or in a meeting room, like all of these Kambrians:
They can also be at a daily standup meeting:
Perhaps even doing a flashmob:
Or ultimately having the Sprint Review altogether in the lounge:
Being Part of It
Wherever they choose to be, Kambrians are so far enjoying the experience which has been great for the past three months. A large part of our video/voice communications have migrated to Gather, and what seemed like a silly platform in the beginning, has proved to change the dynamics and effectiveness of how we connect with our colleagues on a daily basis. We are excited to not only witness the transition to the metaverse, but also to be part of it!