Building Your Office

Ready to get started with Gather for your remote office? These posts cover building your Space and following best Space design practices for your virtual office.

Intro to Building Your Office

We're excited that you want to move your team or office to Gather! No matter where you're at in your transition to a remote office—whether you're researching ideas of what might work for your team or you've already started a subscription to Gather—these articles will provide info on how to understand and design the best virtual office.

You may think that selecting a template is Step 1. The answer is—yes and no. As soon as you click Create a new Space on gather.town/app, you are faced with the decision to design your own Space from scratch (Start from blank) or to use one of our templates. But what is the best choice for you?

A view of the template picker, with the Offices section selected. The first office template, Office Complex, is outlined in green. The Space details in the left panel list parts of the template (desks, lobby, beach, conference rooms, rooftop, and diner), how many people the template accommodates (2-25), the type of space (Indoor & Outdoor areas), and the section to name and create your space. Outlined in red is the question: "What are you building this space for?" with the answer "Coworkers/remote team" selected. Step 1 of building your remote office is deciding whether you will Start from blank or select one of Gather's templates. Select Coworkers / remote team for the purpose of the Space so you'll receive all the built-in remote work features!

This Remote Work section on Building Your Office will help you make the best choice in creating your remote office Space. It covers choosing the best layout for your remote office, understanding the features and best practices of office Spaces, building your office in 5 minutes or less, and moving into the next steps of remote work.

Choose Your Remote Office Layout

When you first create a Space in Gather, you can pick from one of our templates and customize it to your needs, work with a Gather Service Partner to create a custom office, or you can start from scratch yourself. Which option should you choose? This article will give you an overview of the benefits of choosing a Gather template versus starting with a completely blank canvas. 

When To Use a Template

Picking a template is a great option if you are new to Gather. It's the best choice if you want to focus your attention on the why's of making a virtual office Space, rather than the how's. With a template, you've already got a map that's sized to fit your needs. It's got pre-defined areas and objects built in, so the heavy lifting of design work is already done. It's also a good plan when you like the general layout or aesthetic of a template but want to further customize objects or add rooms. 

When choosing a template, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many people will be in the office?
  • How often and/or for what purpose will the team use the office? (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly; for co-working, meetings, meals, socials, etc.)
  • What kind of company culture do I want to develop in this Space?
  • What atmosphere or overall aesthetic do I want for my office?
  • What types of areas and objects are important for my team?

Size

Our templates are sized for a general number of users. The office templates come in the following sizes:  

  • Tiny: 2-25 people
  • Small: 25-50 people
  • Medium: 50-100 people
  • Large: 100+ people

Note: You can always start with one size and then add rooms or even connect to other Spaces as your office grows over time. Check out 4 Steps to Host Your First Gather Event to jump right into a template!

Company Culture

While company culture is largely defined by your mission, vision, and values, your virtual office Space can contribute to supporting a specific vibe. The templates we offer support different work and business styles. For example, if your company is founded in professionalism, accountability, and excellence, you may prefer a more traditional or minimal template such as Office, Inc. or Fancy Office, which provides a Space that most closely imitates a business office. If your company is guided by innovation, collaboration, and passion, you may favor a more creative template, like the Space Station or Forest Office, where employees can meet and work in a less traditional setting. 

Atmosphere & Areas

The style and layout of the office templates have varying aesthetics, as discussed above, such as traditional, modern, industrial, or antique. The templates come with pre-designed office areas with relevant objects. The table below lists common areas included in our office templates and examples of objects that are in these areas. 

Office AreaBackground and Objects
LobbyReception desk, chairs and couches, small tables, plants, bulletin board
Individual work stationsDesks, cubicles, office chairs, file cabinets, lamps, computers
Co-working areasConference rooms, all-hands meeting room, tables, chairs, podiums, whiteboard, projector and screen, tvs, water cooler, plants
Break roomTables, booths, chairs, appliances, display cases, coffee and vending machines, jukebox
Outdoor areasBeach, park, rooftop, orchard, plants, benches, fountains

A zoomed out screenshot of the fancy office complex, which shows all rooms on the map. In the top right quarter of the map, desks have brightly colored rugs and accessories, and in the bottom left quarter, conference room decor hints at customization.A bird's eye view of the Fancy Office Complex, with customized office areas, particularly the work stations and co-working areas.

Note: You can always start with a template and then change the furniture, walls, and flooring to create a different aesthetic.  

When To Work With a Service Partner

If you want your office to be completely unique to your business—maybe to mirror your physical office or to create a totally branded Space—but you don't have the time to create it yourself, you can work with a Gather Service Partner. We individually approve each Service Partner and are confident in their ability to provide the perfect custom Space.

When To Design from Scratch

If you want a custom office and love to tinker and design, we encourage you to Start from blank. When you're starting from scratch, you can start from literally nothing, which takes you into the Mapmaker. There you can upload a background image or begin painting your walls and floors. You can also start with an empty small or medium room, and add on rooms as you need them. 

Resources for Custom Design

Best Practices in Office Design

We're going to take a look at best practices in designing your virtual office. We'll consider how to use different areas and what objects might be best to place within them. By the end of this article, you'll understand more about the power of Gather for remote teams and what plans you'll make for your staff to thrive in your virtual office. 

Throughout the article are screenshots of the Office Complex template, though the advice and design of the Space can be applied to any office layout. The end of the article includes a list of helpful KnowledgeBase articles if you'd like more in-depth instructions on how to implement any of the suggestions.

Overall Best Practices

The following is a brief list of best practices to consider as you customize your office.

  • Overemphasize the obvious - Not everyone is tech-savvy or a mind reader.
    • Make it obvious where you can and can't walk (doors, walls, floors).
    • Make it obvious when you can and can't interact with an object.
    • Make it obvious when you're entering a Private Area.
  • Provide a variety of areas that encourage different types of interaction.
  • Visually and spatially encourage smaller group gatherings using tables, chairs, walls, carpets.
  • Be aware of the audio/video connection radius when creating individual work stations and meeting spaces. 
    • You can connect with and communicate with someone who is roughly 5 tiles away from you in any direction.
    • Audio and video is most clear when you are 2 or less tiles away from another person. A/V gradually fades so that at a distance of 6 tiles, you are no longer connected.

A bird's eye view of the Office Complex template, which includes a welcome area, desks, multiple co-working and conference areas, a break room, and a lunch room (lunch room not pictured in Mini Map).

Planning Common Areas

Lobby

Just like a physical office, each day in a remote office can start by walking through the front door. Creating a welcome area in your office provides a space for staff to begin each day, as well as a spot for guests to meet in your online office. A lobby typically includes a front desk or kiosk for greeting guests, as well as formal and informal seating for staff and clients to talk. 

A view of the lobby in the Office Complex template. Riley, the Gather character, is standing in front of an L-shaped desk. Frank sits in the chair behind the desk. The room has five seating areas: two with antique parlor chairs, two with mod chairs, and one with a long table and antique chairs. There are plants around the edges of the office. There is also a coffee pot with mugs on a table, a flatscreen tv, a bulletin board, and a calendar as decoration.Use a Welcome Area for staff to enter the office each day. It's also a great place to meet guests and clients. 

Lobby Tips

  • Consider whether you need a separate lobby area or just a front desk. This depends in part on how many guests you anticipate visiting your office at one time.
  • Use Spawn tiles to control where people enter the map when they visit your office's URL. By default, most of our templates have Spawn tiles at the entryway into the office, like a lobby or front door.
  • Use familiar lobby furniture and decor. Some of the objects pictured in the lobby above include: the reception desk (bar), plants (bird of paradise and banana leaf), bulletin board, calendar, flatscreen tv, coffee pot and mugs, antique parlor chairs, mod chairs, and rugs (3x3 and 4x5).
    • Make the flatscreen an interactive object and add a slideshow or YouTube video about your company, product, or services.
  • Make a few Private Areas in the lobby so that staff can meet visitors and have private conversations as needed.
  • (Beta: Coming Soon!) Use a password-protected door to prevent guests from entering your office on their own.

Desks

Desks are the perfect spot for staff to create their own personal spaces. They're great for getting some head's down work done, but also for replicating natural interactions in a physical office. If you're passing someone's desk, you can use the Emotes in the Bottom Action Bar to send a greeting. You can also stop for a quick chat or leave a note on their desk if they're out. If your team uses the Claim a desk feature, you can also schedule a meeting or find your co-worker in the Space if you enter their desk area while they're away. 

Encourage staff to customize their desks and organize seating by teams. Walking to and from your desk creates natural interactions, like waving with an Emote or stopping by to chat.

Desk Tips

  • Set up the desks in rows or in quads and/or organize desks by teams. 
    • Use custom text or specific colors and patterns of rugs to indicate different teams. 
  • Show staff how to claim a desk so they can personalize it. 
  • Use Private tiles in each desk area so that staff can only see and talk with the person at their desk without disturbing others seated nearby.
  • Encourage employees to leave Gather open in their browser as they work so that people can stop by for quick questions—just like in physical offices!

Co-Working and Meeting Spaces

One of the best features of using Gather is the opportunity to effortlessly collaborate. Instead of scheduling a video conference call or rounding everyone up in one channel, you can head to a co-working spot in your Space. Our office templates include formal and informal meeting spaces, and you can always add rooms if you want more variety. 

Use formal or informal co-working areas for staff to collaborate. Include interactive objects like a whiteboard for brainstorming.

All-Hands Room

If you have regular all-staff meetings, you may need a spot to accommodate all your staff with a special focus on the facilitator(s). The Office Complex doesn't have an all-hands room by default, so we added one for this article by creating a door and adding a new room in the Mapmaker. 

Add an all-hands room for staff meetings. Use smaller Private Areas within the room so Gather can be most efficient in streaming audio and video.

Co-Working Tips

  • Integrate a public calendar so that everyone can see the day's meetings and teleport directly to the meeting area.
  • Use Spotlight tiles in larger meeting areas so that facilitators can easily share their audio, video, and screen with everyone in that area.
  • For larger meetings, create several private areas for staff to sit together within the room. They can chat to those nearby, and it's easier to connect to the streams of people in a private area instead of the streams of everyone in the room. This also reduces the load on individual computers, improving performance.
    • Encourage a Q&A session with Spotlight tiles for employees to easily ask questions during meetings. 
    • Encourage the use of sending chat messages to Current Room so staff can comment in real-time about meeting topics.
  • Add interactive objects that encourage collaboration:
    • Whiteboard: Brainstorm together using collaborative whiteboards powered by tryeraser.com.
    • Projector screen or TV: Embed media such as pictures, slides, videos, or embeddable websites.
  • (Coming soon!) Add a door that can be open or closed to indicate "Do not disturb" for that conference room.

Break Rooms

Another key feature in Gather are social areas. Our office templates include at least one break room to encourage staff to engage in "water cooler" chats and casual conversation. The larger office templates include several social areas, and you can always add more in the Mapmaker, like a speakeasy, rooftop lounge, diner, or game room. Below is the coffee shop break room in the Office Complex template. 

The Office Complex coffee shop is a great place to encourage casual conversation. Throw in a game or livestream YouTube and re-create that office camaraderie you've been missing.

In our Gather office, we meet twice a week in the "Village Diner" during lunch to play games and talk with each other. We also have regular cross-team socials to spend time with staff outside our immediate teams. 

A view of the Gather "Village Diner" where we meet twice a week to play games and hang out over our lunch hour.

Break Room Tips

  • Add a few of our integrated games to your break room(s), like Draw Battle or One Night Werewolf. 
  • Use the TVs or projector screens to embed popular or relaxing livestream videos, like a 24-hour kitten cam.
  • Make the area visually inviting and engaging with plenty of room to wander or to sit alone or with a group. This is a break from working and should be a time to relax and have conversations. 

Resources

Need some help applying these tips to your Space? Check out the following related articles:

Create a Space in 5 Minutes or Less!

Ready to get started? You can set up your own Gather Space in less than 5 minutes! There is no cost to creating or editing a Space. You can even invite up to 25 people to visit your Space for free! If you have more than 25 guests, or would like to host your Space on a premium server for the duration of your event, check out info about Reservations.

Creating a Space

On our homepage (https://gather.town), click Sign up or Get started for free.

The Gather website homepage with Launch Gather buttons outlined in red. Get started by clicking Sign up or Get started for free on our homepage.

If this is your first time using Gather, you will see a simple landing page with a prompt to create a new Space or sign in. You do not need to create an account to test out Gather. However, if you would like to save the Space you create during this session, you must create an account or sign in. Otherwise, click Create a new space in the middle or bottom left on your screen.

Warning: Any Spaces created while on an Anonymous account may be lost, even if you sign in or sign up after the fact. 

The landing page for users to create a new space or to sign in or sign up. Create a new space buttons are outlined in red.Select Create a new space to design your Space. Make sure to sign up or sign in if you want to save this Space for future use.

After clicking Create a new space, a page displays for you to select a template or to start with a blank Space. 

Using Templates

You can create a Space using one of our out-of-box, fully decorated templates—choosing from a variety of categories list on the left. Scroll through each category to see all options. (The scroll bar is next to the templates, rather than on the far right of the page.) You can also click Start from blank or Blank in the templates list to create a unique Space from scratch. If you'd like to make a completely custom Space, see our article on Custom Map Creation.

A list of template options displays. Office is currently selected, and 24 options display in the counter next to the category. A red box highlights that the scroll bar is next to the template previews, rather than on the right of the window. Choose a template by previewing Spaces in different categories. To scroll through the available templates, use the scroll button next to the template previews. You can also select Start from blank to create your own Space from scratch.

You can narrow down the template options by clicking Filter. Choose approximately how many users will be in the Space and whether you want your Space to be inside or outside, or both.  Click Apply filter. 

Note: Number of users is the max number of the users you expect to have online and in your Space at the same time. Consider it a rough estimate of the maximum capacity of your Space.

The filter button has been clicked, showing a pop-up window of the options for Number of users and Type of areas. Narrow down Gather templates by clicking the green Filter button. Select the Number of users and the Type of areas, then click Apply filter.

Name Your Space

When you find the perfect template, click the template preview.  Your choice is outlined in green, and a Space details menu displays. Enter a name for your Space; this will be part of the URL for your Space. Select whether you would like your Space to be password protected. (Click the Password protect toggle to the right to require passwords. A Password field displays. Enter a secure password to share with your guests.)  Finally, answer the required question, "What are you building the space for?" and click Create space.

Warning: You cannot rename a Space once it created. If you make a mistake, you can always create a new Space with the correct name using the Copy from Existing Space feature.

After selecting a template, select your Space settings. To require participants to use a password to enter the space, toggle Password protect on (turns green). Enter a secure password. Choose the reason for building the space, and click Create space.

If you are not signed in to Gather, after you click Create space, a confirmation message displays. Use this opportunity to sign in or sign up to save your Space for future use. If you are just creating a test Space that does not need to be permanently saved, select Create space without signing in

A confirmation message displays if you try to create a space without being logged in. If you do not need this Space permanently saved for future use, click Create space without signing in.

Final Notes

Congratulations on creating your first Gather Space! Once you've chosen your avatar, you're ready to start building. You can invite others to test out the space by either directly sending them the URL of your Space, or by clicking the Gather icon in the upper left corner and selecting Invite people.

A view of the game room displays. A red outline is around the menu that displays when you click the Gather icon. A banner at the top of the page announces that the account is unclaimed.Click the Gather icon in the top right corner to find your Space's URL or to Invite people. 

Next Steps After Building Your Office

Check out the Getting Started: Remote Work articles for all the ins and outs of how Gather works for business and how to set up and manage your virtual office. We've put together the following articles that should help you and your team thrive in Gather:

  1. Getting Started with Gather for Remote Work: Review high-level reasons for using Gather for your team!
  2. Planning for Success: Run through a list of recommendations for creating and maintaining a successful virtual office.
  3. Building Your Office: Learn more about tips, tricks, and best practices for designing your office! 
  4. Onboarding Your Staff: Prepare your employees for the new experience. Help them decorate their desk and interact with objects and coworkers. Show them around the space and schedule your first meetings.
  5. Maintaining MomentumPick up some best practices for building and maintaining your company culture within your virtual office. 
  6. Welcoming ClientsSend out invites, set up virtual office hours, and create password-protect spaces as necessary.
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