Build 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 have two options when you start with your remote work office: follow our onboarding flow (from https://app.gather.town/get-started) or choose a template and design your own custom office (from https://app.gather.town/create).

Option 1: Remote Work Onboarding Flow

We have made it as pain-free as possible to hop right into Gather and get started with your team. We offer several office templates catered to the size of your office that include onboarding messages and tips as each new team member enters the Space. 

To get started, just head to https://app.gather.town/get-started! Choose Set up a workspace, then Get Started.

The get-started screen of Gather, where you can choose from Work, Events, or Places to get started.From https://gather.town/get-started, choose Set up a workspace for your use case! 

Next, pick the size of your office. Consider how many people will usually be in the office at the same time. Select Confirm Selection

The Office Size screen, with an 18-25 size office selected. A preview of the office Map displays. Choose your office size. The Map preview shows what your new office will look like!

Enter a name for your office, which will be part of the URL (it's best if you don't use spaces or special characters). You can choose to add a password to your office by toggling on Password protect, which will display a field for you to enter a password.

A window displays "Create a new office space for your team" with a Space name field. my-new-office is entered as the name. Password protect is toggled off.Enter a name for your office and select Create space.

If you aren't already signed in, you'll be prompted to do so. Don't have an account? No problem! Just use your Google credentials or sign up with your email. 

A modal reads "Sign up to finish creating your space" with a Sign with Google button and a field to enter your email.Sign in or sign up to finish creating your office. Once you're logged in, select Join the Gathering to hop into your freshly made office. All that's left is to explore and invite your team!

Option 2: Design a Custom Office

If you want to finesse the look and feel of your office, you can design your own custom office. Just head to https://gather.town/create. Choose from one of our ready-made office templates or design your own Space from scratch (Start from blank). Make sure to select that you're building the space for Remote Office!

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 Remote office for the purpose of the Space so you'll receive all the built-in remote work features!

The following Remote Work section on Building Your Office will help you make the best choices if you choose to build your own office (versus the onboarding flow). 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, adding a Rec Room, and moving into the next steps of remote work.

Choose Your 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 following our onboarding flow, choosing a Gather template, or starting with a completely blank canvas. 

When to Go with the Flow

If you want to exert minimal effort in getting into Gather, following our onboarding flow is the perfect option. From https://app.gather.town/get-started, choose Set up a workspace

The use case selection screen, with options to set up a workspace, organize an event, and explore social experiences.From https://gather.town/get-started, select Set up a workspace to hop into our virtual office onboarding flow.

You'll then be prompted to select the number of people you expect to be in your office, to create a name for your Space, and to create an account, if you haven't already. Once you're logged in, select Join the Gathering to hop into your freshly made office. All that's left is to explore and invite your team!

When To Use a Template

Starting at https://gather.town/create and choosing a template is a great option if you are new to Gather and want to pick a specific style/theme for your office. 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?

Easy Customization Feature

We've launched a new easy customization feature that lets you expand your office size and layout with minimal clicks. Note that you must be an Office Admin or Builder to access this feature. 

To try it out, click on the Build Tool in the bottom right menu, then click the Map tab on the top right to view template options. Use the sliding scale to preview easy customization templates and select the one you'd like. Note that we will create a backup of the current map and customizations when you change the map template so you can restore an older version if needed. 

The Map tab under the Build Tool allows you to explore different easy customization styles and sizes. You can also find your backup maps here. 

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!

Backups

Gather automatically saves the last 5 versions of your office in the Backups section of the Easy Customization feature. To find the Backups, click on the Build Tool in the bottom right menu, then click the Map tab on the top right to view template options and scroll all the way to the bottom of the panel. Here you will find the 5 most recent versions of your office if you have made any changes. Click the three dots beside the version of the office that you would like to revert back to. 

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 zoomed out view of the fancy office template with decorated desk areas and themed conference rooms.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. Sam is 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. 

Riley stands in the center of a group of desks, all of which have custom rugs, lamps, and decorationsEncourage 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 decorate their desks. 
  • 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. 

Riley stands in the cyberpunk themed meeting room, which is between a nautical themed and jungle themed meeting roomsUse 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. 

Riley stands in the middle of the all hands room, which has multiple seating areas and two spotlighted podiumsAdd 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.
  • 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. 

Riley stands in the center of the coffee break room, which has a bar and a pastry counter and several carpeted seating areas.

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! Here's a few important things to know as you get started:

  • It's free to make! There is no cost to creating or editing a Space.
  • Your Space can be used by up to 25 people at the same time for free! Just sent out invites when your Space is ready to be visited.
  • Place a reservation for 25+ guests or to get additional moderation features! When you're ready, you can easily make a reservation for a One-Time Event event, for a specified date and time range, or for an ongoing monthly subscription. 

Option 1: Choose Your Use Case

If you start from our homepage (https://gather.town), we'll take you through steps designed for your specific use case. Just select Sign in or Get started for free and follow the prompts to quickly and easily start a Space for your remote office, special event, or community. 

First, select your use case (the main reason why you're making the Space) and then select Get started. We've got three main options to choose from: Remote Work, Team Social, or Conferences. The option you select dictates what you experience next.

Tip: If you choose Remote Work or Conferences, we'll take you through a few additional onboarding steps to help you get started. These onboarding journeys are still in development, so look for upcoming articles that will walk you through what happens when you choose Remote Work or Conferences. If you choose Team Social, we'll take you to https://app.gather.town/create to choose a template, which is what we describe in this article.

A view of the onboarding flow with the question: "What are you building your Space for?" with three options. The first option on the left is Work, which has a lavender background and a preview of office templates. The second, middle option in Events, with a light blue background and a preview of conference templates. The third and right-hand option is Places, with a light green background and a preview of a game room, cafe, and nighttime market. Beneath the options are a button for "Back to explore" and a button for "Get started." Select the main reason you're creating a Space, then select Get started.

Option 2: Pick a Template

If you'd like to take a look at all of our templates before getting started, head to https://app.gather.town/create. 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. You can select Filter to narrow down choices by Number of users or Type of areas

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.

A view of gather.town/create, also known as the template picker. On the left, a Search bar allows you to look for a template by keyword. Beneath are the current categories for templates, which include Office, Seasonal, Experience, Social, Conference, Education, Blank, and My Existing Spaces. In the center of the screen are the previews of the templates. In this screenshot, the Filter button has been selected, and the Filter menu displays, allowing you to select Number of Users (2-25, 25-50, 50-100, 100+) and Type of areas (indoor, outdoor, indoor & outdoor).From https://gather.town/create, you can view our templates or choose to create your own by selecting Start from blank. Select Filter to narrow templates by size or type of area.

Scroll through each category to see all options. You can also click Start from blank or Blank in the templates list to create a unique Space from scratch. 

Tip: If you'd like to make a completely custom Space, see our article on Custom Map Creation.

Name Your Space

When you find the perfect template, select the template preview.  Your choice is outlined in green, and a Space details menu displays in the right panel. 

Enter a name for your Space without any spaces; this will be part of the URL for your Space. It must be 25 characters or fewer.

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.

Select whether you would like your Space to be password protected. (Select 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 select Create space.

The template picker with the Experiences tab active and the Botanical Garden template selected. In the right panel, you details about the space and provides a field to enter a Space name, a toggle to turn on passwords, and a drop-down list for the reason you're building the space.  After selecting a template, provide a name (without keyboard spaces). 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 select 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

Important! 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. If you create a Space and do not log in, you will not be able to regain Admin access to the Space again!

The warning message that displays if you are not signed into your Gather account and you try to create a Space. The warning reads "You're not currently signed in. You might lose ownership of your Space" with two buttons: Create Space without signing in and Sign 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, select Create space without signing in.

Congratulations on creating your first Gather Space!