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?
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.
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?
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!
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 Area||Background and Objects|
|Lobby||Reception desk, chairs and couches, small tables, plants, bulletin board|
|Individual work stations||Desks, cubicles, office chairs, file cabinets, lamps, computers|
|Co-working areas||Conference rooms, all-hands meeting room, tables, chairs, podiums, whiteboard, projector and screen, tvs, water cooler, plants|
|Break room||Tables, booths, chairs, appliances, display cases, coffee and vending machines, jukebox|
|Outdoor areas||Beach, park, rooftop, orchard, plants, benches, fountains|
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
- 📖 Custom Map Overview: Get started creating a custom Space from scratch.
- 📖 Best Practices in Space Design: Get a more in-depth look at how to create a Space that will meet all your needs.
- 📖 Custom Objects: Learn how to upload custom objects to support your brand.
- 📖 Gather Service Partners: Review a list of Service Partners who specialize in designing Spaces.
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.
Planning Common Areas
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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Need some help applying these tips to your Space? Check out the following related articles:
- 📖 Objects 101: How to add and manage objects.
- 📖 Spawn Tiles: How to add and manage default and custom Spawn tiles.
- 📖 Private Areas: How to add and manage Private tiles.
- 📖 Claim Desk: How to claim and personalize individual work stations.
- 📖 Calendar Integration: How to add an office calendar.
- 📖 Spotlight Tiles: How to add and manage Spotlight tiles.
- 📖 Add a Room: How to add rooms to your office.
- 📖 Integrated Games: How to add and manage games.
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.
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.
After clicking Create a new space, a page displays for you to select a template or to start with a blank Space.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Getting Started with Gather for Remote Work: Review high-level reasons for using Gather for your team!
- Planning for Success: Run through a list of recommendations for creating and maintaining a successful virtual office.
- Building Your Office: Learn more about tips, tricks, and best practices for designing your office!
- 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.
- Maintaining Momentum: Pick up some best practices for building and maintaining your company culture within your virtual office.
- Welcoming Clients: Send out invites, set up virtual office hours, and create password-protect spaces as necessary.