Tired of crowded video chats? New ways to engage with coworkers and friends virtually

By Rachel Nix, Building Kentucky

Replicating in-person interactions is a recurring challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. From office culture to interpersonal relationships, the inability to chat and engage with others in an organic way is tricky when you’re far apart.

By now, most people have been on a video call with way too many people trying to talk. We’ve missed the off-shoot side conversations, the ease of hopping between group chats, and the connections that face to face meetings provide.

Thankfully, virtual platforms have emerged to help bridge the digital divide.


Whether it’s water cooler gossip, breakout sessions or a cocktail party, Gather solves some of the biggest issues facing group calls. Gather offers virtual spaces to interact merging web-based video with an interactive 2D map.

Users can wander around the space (pick from office setting, family gathering, conference room or even beer garden) and interact by video with others nearby. You can jump to another table, leave a conversation easily and interact more like you would in real life.

The platform is free for up to 25 guests in one virtual space and has capabilities for large-format events like university classes and conference sessions. You can even set up games, whiteboards and other collaborative elements to engage with others – all safely at home.

It’s also kind of fun – with an interface like a retro video game, ability to change your avatar, and even options to customize a room to look just like your physical space.

Other Virtual Hangouts

Play games with friends and chat at the same time with Backyard. The virtual platform helps groups hang out online. With tons of choices for games and a virtual whiteboard with unlimited possibilities, Backyard is great for team building and boosting corporate culture. Most games cap out at 12 users and audio/video is limited to 16 guests.

Miro’s virtual whiteboard technology is another great option to collaborate with others while you chat. Work on brainstorming, research, strategy or design in this easy digital workspace.

Or take advantage of some of Zoom’s lesser-known features like polls, breakout rooms and Q&A functions to streamline your conversations.

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