How a virtual cyber cafe can boost employee engagement

Version 1’s Samuel Stan pioneered an employee engagement event in the form of a virtual cyber cafe for his remote and hybrid colleagues.

Remote work has been a boon for many, allowing them to be more present at home or avoid those two-hour drives to the office.

But it’s not without its challenges, and many teams are struggling to move away from office work altogether for fear it will destroy employee engagement.

human future

After all, it’s much harder to have informal conversations with your colleagues when most of your work is done asynchronously and face-to-face time is strictly reserved for meetings about work.

Enter Samuel Stan, an associate project manager at software company Version 1, who pioneered an employee engagement event in the form of a virtual cyber cafe.

“I have spent a good portion of my life in internet cafes and I understand the power they have when looking to build communities and host events,” he told

The virtual cyber cafe in version 1 was created as a timed gaming event that allows fans and newbies to meet and play while interacting with each other. The company opted for Microsoft Xbox Game Pass for the gaming cafe due to its wide variety of games and cloud streaming capabilities.

“It’s a safe space for rookies and it allows them, no, it incentivizes them to improve. In the meantime, experienced players can find their match or create incredible teams that overcome the most difficult challenges”, explained Stan.

“We’ve gone out of our way to support you after work hours, but also during work hours, for staff who are travelling, on leave or just want to take time out of their lunch hour to relax and play,” he added. . “Some need a break, but the fear of ‘wasting’ vacations puts them off. Allowing them to disengage and de-stress as they explore a new entertainment medium, I think it was worth encouraging.”

A close-up of a man looking at the camera while standing outside in front of some bushes.

Samuel Stan. Image: Version 1

Additional benefits

While some companies may worry about a drop in employee engagement without that interaction in the office, Stan said he believes engagement in a virtual environment is easier to enable if done right and can be particularly beneficial for newcomers. employees.

“You’re doing away with the travel, the dress code, and the ‘office persona.’ So allowing people to be open and direct in their engagement,” she said.

“A person who is supported and trained by others will always perform better than they would otherwise. During the event I noticed that a large part of the participants were new employees, less than a year old, who were looking for a challenge and to improve. They left the event more confident and informed about colleagues they might never otherwise interact with.”

While employee engagement was the primary goal of the virtual cyber cafe, Stan said there were many other benefits, including improving cognitive skills, collaboration skills, and confidence.

“It gave our new members another outlet to build their Version 1 network, something that can be challenging in a first remote workplace.”

“I have personally seen a colleague improve significantly in one of the racing games we had available. The sheer joy of finishing the race was incredible and helped her become that much better at expressing herself within the group. I instantly noticed the change of confidence and joy in both tone and expressiveness,” she said.

“I am happy that we can be a part of their success. All the participants were very supportive, and we could see that she worked hard to be one of us.”

Amanda Kelly, director of employee experience for Version 1, said it proved to be an “innovative approach” to the challenge of building social engagement in a hybrid environment.

“First of all, it gave our people an outlet to disconnect from their day-to-day; second, a chance to talk to people they would otherwise never have talked to; and last but not least, it provided our new members with another outlet to build their Version 1 network and create a sense of connection with the organization, something that can be challenging in a first remote workplace.”

Stan said he is very pleased with the results of the event and would encourage all companies to consider implementing a similar virtual initiative.

“The passion of the participants, the success stories witnessed and the personal growth of the people will help them participate in all the other initiatives. New members are attracted to positive people, games can become that positive interaction that boosts their confidence and allows them to express their emotions.”

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