After several years of working remotely, I consistently found that it was difficult to get to know my coworkers on a personal level outside of infrequent in-person meetups. There was a lack of random collisions around the water-cooler and it felt awkward to randomly reach out and strike up conversations with people about hobbies.
Unfortunately, this reality impacted the way I worked with others. It was too easy to feel like my coworkers were robots or words on a screen. I would treat them differently as a result 😭
This was not intentional. As I reflected on this experience, the conclusion I came to was that I didn't have a personal connection with my coworkers. I couldn't paint a mental picture of who someone was like in my head when working remotely.
At Friday, our goal is to create systems that help make remote work better. While there will never be a replacement for in-person relationship building, we think there's a need to create digital breadcrumbs that help you get to know coworkers.
In other words, you need some type of icebreaker to kickstart the water-cooler conversations outside of the in-person meetups.
Ideally, these icebreakers are part of existing routines, but can also be referenced over time for new and existing team members.
At one company I used to work for, we did an "ask-me-anything" for new hires which was a ton of fun, but it was a manual process and responses were lost forever in Slack and couldn't easily be referenced over time.
It seemed like there had to be a better way.
A better way to break the ice 🧊
As we researched this problem, many of our customers said they were using workflows to ask fun questions on a periodic basis, like, "what was your favorite activity over the holidays?"
We liked the idea, but felt that these responses deserved to be treated differently than regular update questions like, "what did you accomplish this week?"
We also recognized that maybe you don't want to ask these questions in all your workflows, so ideally, this should be something you can turn on and off.
So that's what we did!
I'd like to introduce you to icebreakers.
Step #1: Activate icebreakers, customize questions 💪
If you create or edit a workflow, you will now have the option to enable the icebreakers power-up.
If the power-up is enabled, we will rotate through a bank of icebreaker questions and ask them one at a time. We have a few questions automatically created for you, but you can ask any question you'd like!
Step #2: Answer Icebreaker Questions ✍️
After you enable icebreakers on your workflows and add questions, you can answer these icebreaker questions as part of your regular updates (seen below)
Step #3: See responses and kickstart water-cooler conversations 🤗
As icebreaker responses come in, we will automatically roll them up into the feed and also in their own dedicated icebreakers section (see below).
Here's my favorite part. When viewing a coworker's profile in Friday, you will also be able to see their entire history of responses over time. This makes it easy to kickstart fun conversations around shared interests and also make work feel a bit more human.
What's coming next for icebreakers?
This is only the beginning of icebreakers. We'll be continually improving this feature in the near future, adding the ability to push responses to a Slack/Teams channel, creating a "bank" of questions to ask, and much more.
If you have questions or thoughts on how we can improve this feature, please don't hesitate to ask!