by Colby Fayock

Culture is what sets a company apart from others. Building relationships and experiences with your team members is what helps build that culture. But that can be tough to carry throughout a team that’s remote-first. Enter Donut.

Donut? I want a Donut…

Homer eating a donut

While actual donuts are yummy, the Slack app Donut is an easy to add integration into the tool you already use daily. Simply set up a new channel, or use one you already have, and you can immediately get started pairing random people from your team at the frequency you choose.

This isn’t an ad for donut (write your own!), but the idea is simple: every 2 weeks the bot randomly pairs 2 members of the channel and encourages them to meet up via a quick direct message. No pressure, the channel is opt-in only (this is important).

What does it mean to be paired?

Whatever you want it to be. You don’t necessarily need to eat a donut. Some of us at HQ like to grab coffee while others who are remote each have a real donut over a video chat.

The point is to get away from work for a short period of time (usually 30m) and learn more about your fellow teammate.

Sounds like another meeting…

Well yes, but actually no

“Another meeting” is missing the point. Getting paired up is a good way to foster bonds you wouldn’t normally get with normal day-to-day meetings.

We’re a smaller team, so I know everyone by name, but there are coworkers I’ve never had a conversation with because they’re remote or not on my project. This blows my mind! I wanted to change that.

You really don’t realize how much you have in common or generally what awesome stuff other people are up to until you can set some time outside of work meetings or being heads down in code to have a real conversation.

I learned that one co-worker is an avid foster parent, which is incredible and deeply impacts kid’s lives for the better. Another co-worker loves games like I do, particularly board games, which led us to start a game night at HQ for a bunch of us to get together to play.

E84’s First Game Night – Sushi Go!

I get it, but what do others think?

I spoke to 5 other team members and unanimously, the hardest part for everyone was just getting something on the calendar and finding the time (have a feature request out for help there). Even if it’s simply making a connection to make future chats easier, each person was able to find value and genuinely enjoyed each experience.

Speaking to those who work remote, having these small meetups gave them the opportunity to feel connected to others on the team.

For those who are local, finding a common interest like Cyber Security, cooking, or a particular TV show helped them relax by being able to talk about things they enjoy (is cyber security ever not stressful?).

The resounding message from each person is this is valuable because it helps you take that first step with the introduction. Everyone wants to “get to know their coworkers”, but actually taking the first step and finding time continuously gets in the way.

Building culture through interaction

Whatever it is, getting a chance to have a real talk can greatly impact your perception of someone and can strengthen your relationship as you work together on projects. Easing that tension, even just a little, breaks communication walls and barriers that hold people back from being productive.

And work aside, it’s just fun to take a break, eat a donut, and get an opportunity to make a new friend.