Remotely working: Recreating the office chance-meetings

Snir, a self-employed consultant, started off a discussion in the RC community about creating chance meetings while working remotely. Check out how it went.

Hi guys, this is an excerpt from my remote work newsletter, which can be found here:

One benefit offices have is the chance to meet and chat with people in the organization you wouldn’t have otherwise.

It can happen in the kitchen while preparing your lunch, by the coffee machine, or when you take a walk to free up your mind. It’s random, and it creates connections between people from different parts of the organization, leading to partnerships and cross-domain projects down the road.

Every book about the history of the tech industry and of silicon valley in particular mentions the magic of Xerox PARC. How all the smart people were there, and just the ability to meet up randomly and then team up for a project created so much innovation. We need this kind of connectivity and random meetings in the remote work environment.

The subject of random talks and cross-organization networking is broad. We can dive deep into the why which will lead to a better understanding of how exactly to do that. Matching up people for one-on-ones randomly? Or maybe by departments? What about ignoring the job positions and matching people by interests? Suggest a topic for them? How long should the meeting be?

I’m working on an essay to explore these questions, but the low hanging fruit is the fact that creating a place for random meetings between people from the organization is obviously beneficial.

And if something is valuable for businesses - you can be sure there will be products selling this value.

Even though you can manually manage it with elaborated Excel sheets (as pretty much everything in this world) it’s much easier and convinient to use a tool designed specifically for this, lets explore some of them:


ChatFox offers diverse tools for team engagement in chats. Their “coffee break” feature is the one to create random chats in the organization.

As far as I can see you can’t control who matches with whom, nor can you “force” weekly meetings like this through the tool. But it is a nice basic tool for this purpose, and maybe some of their other cool features will be useful for you as well (:

Donut - remote connection

This tool is more elaborated on the “chance meetings” features. It allows for a selective group of people to be chosen from by creatin dedicated slack channels and it has nice features around new hirees.


This is the first tool in the list that does not require Slack. It works around team members’ calendars to find spots to schedule one-on-ones with other random team members.

Coworker Coffee

Once you have a profile, this tool will regularly introduce you to new colleagues as well as allow you to explore more about known acquaintances. It provides scheduling tool and the worker’s profiles are within the same app (as opposed to those relying on Slack or simply Calendars links)

Office Roulette

Self-explanatory name. But this one requires an app or browser extension to work with. It has a decent free version, too.

The above points made by Snir led to a lively discussion on Remote Clan. Gajus, CTO at Contra, added to the list of products with Snack:

I released Snack at the beginning of this year and since then it has grown to 500 companies and 300k+ users. It is being used by Giphy, HP, Stanford, Harvard, UC Davis, and a ton of other cool organisations. Snack works by pairing people through Slack to have 1:1 video conversations. The conversations include ice-breakers and a way to rate your interactions, which we later use to prioritize future matches. The primary goal of Snack is to recreate serendipitous encounters that happen in the office."


In another thread, Hrishikesh, co-founder of Flexiple, also gave some valuable inputs and Irma, remote worker since 2017, joined in:

Hrishikesh: "Loved reading this piece. Absolutely agree to the fact that chance meetings or serendipitous conversations are unlikely to happen by themselves in a remote setting. And such conversations are always the start of something new, innovative or creative :-)

Every book about the history of the tech industry and of silicon valley in particular mentions the magic of Xerox PARC. How all the smart people were there, and just the ability to meet up randomly and then team up for a project created so much innovation. We need this kind of connectivity and random meetings in the remote work environment.

Perfect example to drive your point. Couldn’t have put this across any better.

I was also having a chat with Florent (@altimor) the other day about this very thing. He’s working on an interesting product - to solve precisely this problem!

@irma is also working in a similar area at, however, targeting the problem of social isolation and meetings not restricted to your own organisation. @irma: I read that you do onboard teams as well, so, is there a way I can have my entire team on Cafecito and restrict the chance conversations within the team only?"

Irma: "We’re currently working on making that happen. I’ll send over a quick email and we can talk about it more."


Brendan, who has over 10yrs of remote working experience, told of a product he likes related to this: "On a related note, many remote workers are freelancers or otherwise independent, and so maintaining/developing one’s network is an ongoing and essential step. For those that may be interested, Jordan Harbinger has a free course that has some good tactics. (I have no affiliation, but I highly recommend it.)"


Karthik, co-founder of Flexiple, also chimed in with his experience: "Very well written Snir. Totally agree about in-person meetings being useful. My previous job was in-office and it was easier to bump into people and not just ideate but also make friends outside my team. It was very organic in nature and that meant that personalities were never forced together. It is tough to make it organic in a remote work environment and I guess that is something that we will have to live with. I think these tools are doing a neat job of trying to encourage conversations. However, I am still sceptical about how well disparate personalities will react to such “random” meetings.”

Lucas, who's worked as a remote designer for 3yrs, said this: "Just read an article on how serendipity drove success to companies in the Valley. The fact that a cluster of tech talents, entrepreneurs and investors lived within the 30-mile radius of Bay Area made it more likely for a chance encounter between them, paving way for multiple opportunities.

Now, in a decentralized remote space, such encounters have taken a nosedive. These products can replicate the chance encounters to some level. I feel the reason they are called serendipitous is the nature that it happens by chance without our interference."


Kirill, a senior entrepreneur, also told of his product, "We are building an app that is aimed to solve the exact problem you describe in this article, i.e. replicate spontaneous meetings online."


Alexandra, who's got considerable remote working experience and has worked on her own projects since Dec 2020, also added:

"Great article and thanks for putting this together!

I’d like to add our platform Veertly ( - this goes one step further and you can mimic the whole office environment by setting up different rooms (e.g. Coffee Kitchen; After-Work-Bar) and more. In addition, you can do 1:1 networking by being randomly matched to other ‘co-workers’ that are available."