SoWork and Gather Town: two top digital office apps where 'virtual meeting' is taken to a whole new level.
SoWork is a remote work powerhouse, giving teams an AI-powered virtual office that takes meetings, team engagement, and performance to an entirely new level.
While Gather Town is akin to a fun social hub sprinkled with work elements and a whole lot of customization.
So, which virtual office is best for your remote team? Let's dig in.
Water Cooler Moments
The biggest advantage of a virtual office? Natural 'water cooler' moments. In a virtual office, teammates work beside each other (literally). This means you can walk up to someone you need to talk to, just like in real life.
Once you've experienced it, you won't be able to go back to a Zoom-like video conferencing app.
Both SoWork and Gather Town enable teams to work beside each other and engage in scheduled and spontaneous meetings. So where do they differ?
SoWork: Built For Remote Work
SoWork is built to encourage productive and social interactions between teammates throughout the day.
Meeting zones are themed, to signal what kind of work is taking place and encourage others to joined. Think: Pomodoro zones for teammates who want to sprint and play together.
'What's Happening' shows what meetings are taking place and what the purpose is. A notification when someone enters the office let's you wave to your teammates. An alert that someone tried to connect with you while you were away makes it easy to catch up on missed connections.
Gather Town: Built For Socials
The Gather team originally created Gather Town for events and socials. When the virtual event space died down, they pivoted to remote work. This events background shows in the feature set, which has a heavy focus on games and interactive toys as a way to drive social connections.
AI and Data-Powered Tools
Remote teams have an advantage: their office is digital. Which means their office can, in theory, take advantage of technology and help teams be smarter, faster, and more productive than possible in the old physical office.
SoWork: The 'Smart' Digital Office
1. Actionable Insights
SoWork packages up team data into actionable insights. Like letting you know when it's been a long time since you last chatted with your closest teammates, or flagging teammates who may be inundated with too many meetings.
2. AI Meeting Tools
SoWork also has an AI-powered 'office assistant', Sophia Bot. Sophia basically roams around the digital office helping teams save time.
She takes meeting notes, summarizes the main themes and takeaways, and provides action-items for next steps.
Teammates save a ton of time catching up on what they missed, and can even read these summaries on the go, from the SoWork mobile app.
3. Time-Saving Integrations
Project managers can use SoWork's Zapier integrations to connect the automated meeting action items to Asana, or Jira, for breezy ticketing.
What about Gather Town Offices?
Gather Town does not currently offer data, insights, or AI-powered tools to help remote teams work smarter. Instead, they're more focused on remote team socialization and office customizations.
SoWork and Gather Town have mobile apps. But man, are they different.
Gather Town's mobile app feels similar to Zoom or any other video conferencing app. You can take video calls with members of your office. That's about it.
SoWork took a different approach. The mobile app is designed to feel like you're a part of the virtual office, without needing to load all the heavy assets to get that feeling on the go.
See who's in the office, use the Slack-like chat, get notifications of DMs and meetings in progress, see who's meeting now and join in, catch up on meetings you missed by skimming the AI-generated meeting summaries.
SoWork's mobile app truly feels like you're connected to your virtual office, not using just another video conferencing app. And, SoWork only just released it! Imagine what's coming next...
Not much needs to be said here. If you're looking to save your team time and energy by making meetings more productive, SoWork is your product.
SoWork has extensive tools for productive meetings - both scheduled and spontaneous. Including insights and AI-powered tools, which we'll touch on in #4.
Gather Town currently offers the basics here, and does not offer additional value to drive productive meetings for your remote team.
Your remote office needs to play nice with the other apps in your tech stack. And both SoWork and Gathertown have integrations to do just that.
Where SoWork shines is with Zapier integrations. SoWork allows you to send AI-powered meeting summaries and AI-generated action items to your other tools (like Notion, Asana) for fast productivity.
You can dig into SoWork's Zapier integrations here. They're regularly adding more, too.
Both apps have Slack and Google Calendar integrations. SoWork also has an Outlook integration.
Google Calendar is one of the more extensive integrations, because these office apps are also where scheduled meetings happen.
Both Gather Town and SoWork allow you to integrate office links into your Calendar, so you can easily make calendar events with your office as the location.
But where they differ is how they handle calendar events inside the app.
SoWork integrates with your Google Calendar and pulls these events into your SoWork office. It uses this information to help you focus - showing you just your next few events (and not the entire cluster that is your whole calendar). And by giving you notifications when a new event is starting in 10 minutes.
Gathertown's in-app calendar, on the other hand, is different than your Google Calendar. It's a unique calendar that you need to add events to in order for them to show up in your office, and for you to receive alerts about them. What's on your Google Calendar already is not reflected in your Gather Town Office.
While Zoom and other video conferencing apps are just tiles on a screen, virtual offices like Gather Town and SoWork are very different.
Teammates exist as avatars, not just tiles. And the backdrop to video calls is a 2.5D world that avatars navigate around between meetings. No more black backdrop and disconnection as soon as the meeting is over.
And in both tools, all of this can be customized. From the office itself, to teammate desks, to the avatar.
This is one place Gather Town and SoWork differ significantly.
Gather Town's Art style leans pixelated, and is reminiscent of the popular Pokemon game.
Whereas SoWork took an immersive, life-like approach to the Art. And it has implications on how engaged your team feels - to the office, each other, and ultimately their work.
With more life-like, detailed Art, SoWork is able to display items of cultural significance - team pictures, images of company milestones - in a way that Gather Town can't. Teammates in SoWork can leave gifts, celebrate, express their company pride.. in ways that just aren't possible elsewhere.
When teammates express excitement, camaraderie, accomplishments - does it feel real? This matters, particularly in remote settings where bringing real, life-like moments into the culture is a constant challenge. Testing content
Gather Town and SoWork offices are fully customizable.
Both offer themed template maps as part of onboarding, so teams can immediately move into functional real estate.
Both products allow you to knock down walls. Add, remove, or re-arrange the furniture. Create a vibe that suits your team, whether that's an open-office concept with coworking spaces, desks overlooking the ocean, or space organized by purpose (meetings happen here, deep work happens here..).
Gather Town focuses on extensive mapmaking functionality and options. Both in the mapmaker and in the form of an API that can be used to create your own office objects. Like a recreation of a teammate's pet to hang out near their desk.
While SoWork's art style means a custom office that feels much more realistic and immersive. Team photos and company memories on the walls actually look real, in ways they can't in more pixelated art styles like Gather Town's. And this realism and immersion has been linked to deeper remote team engagement.
And we all know the impact engagement has on employee happiness, retention, and business costs.
A virtual office means each teammate can have their own desk or work spot. You know where to find them in-between scheduled meetings. Where to leave gifts or surprises to celebrate their latest accomplishment. They have a spot that's just theirs - set up to express who they are and what matters to them.
In Gather Town, desks are like cubicles. They're pre-made and organized in groups beside each other. Each desk is the same size, and has the same built-in functionality. You can adjust the desk, chair, rug, and items on the desk. And once you claim a desk, you can easily return to it when you're elsewhere in the office. You can also allocate desks for other teammates, and invite them in to claim their desk beside you.
SoWork is almost the opposite. Instead of cubicles, maps come with pre-made areas that can be fully customized into work spots. Desks are optional, and many teammates opt for beach chairs, bean bags, or swings instead. With pre-made templates available for easy customizing. New teammates get to decorate their office on their first day, and clear it out on their last.
Photos of family, drawings of pets, home country flags. SoWork's work spots focus more on individual expression.
In the virtual office, your character represents... you! So both Gather Town and SoWork allow you to customize how you look.
Gather Town offers fun and diverse options - maybe you want to be a pirate. And SoWork has their own range of options - batman with a skateboard, anyone?
But this is another place SoWork's art is ultimately a remote team advantage.
Because characters are more realistic, teammates are able to customize them to really look like them. This in turn impacts how connected they feel to the virtual office, which has a direct impact on self-expression and engagement.
And, again because of realism, SoWork is able to display logos to create company-branded clothes. There's a reason we give teammates swag, right. We know how company-branded clothing drives a feeling of pride and connectedness - to the team, culture, and overall org.
Engagement & Bonding
Both Gather Town and SoWork focus on team engagement and bonding, so you'll see capabilities to drive this in both products.
Again, we see their origins influencing how they do this.
Gather Town's history of focusing on socials and events comes through - team engagement and bonding centers around games, play, and space customization.
They do have a few office-specific capabilities, like the ability to leave a note on a teammate's desk for their birthday.
SoWork approaches engagement and bonding through the lens of team performance. Teammates can engage in real-time by chatting above their head, without breaking someone's deep work. Meetings can be celebrated using emojis, without interrupting the flow.
Teammates can give each other gifts to recognize their work achievements or cultural impact.
So both products encourage team engagement and bonding. But while Gather Town's does this via pure fun and games, SoWork integrates these capabilities into the work experience itself.
Let's dig into SoWork and Gather Town's pricing.
Both Gather Town and SoWork have free and paid tiers. The most important difference is what's in the free tier.
Gather Town's pricing model limits free offices to 10 teammates. Once you're over 10 people (guests included), you need to pay for every teammate at $7/person/month.
SoWork allows teams to have unlimited teammates in their free plan. So unlike Gather Town, you will not need to pay for everyone as soon as you have 11+ teammates in one office.
Instead, they limit functionality. SoWork has 3 plans:
- Free - the biggest restrictions are 30 minute meeting limit, no meeting AI, no meeting recording)
- Basic ($4/person/month) - this removes the 30 minute meeting limit. It's for teams that aren't ready for premium features but want to pay to get rid of the 30 minute meeting restriction.
- Premium ($10/person/month) - this is the no limits, full feature access plan (meeting recording, Zapier integrations, AI tools, etc)
Every new office in SoWork starts on a 3 week premium trial, and then admin are able to decide which plan they want to use once the trial has ended.
SoWork also offers 'day passes' for all paid plans, so you can have visitors come to the office for free. Think interviewee, board meeting, a customer. SoWork also offers discounts on annual plans, for team > 100 people, etc.
SoWork prioritizes fast, high touch customer support. They are available on all common channels, usually respond in minutes, most days of the week.
They're available in a few unconventional ways, too. Like you can walk straight into their full-time office and talk to the founders.
Gather Town customer support channels are more traditional, and require filling out a form or setting up a meeting with a sales or support rep.
Both products have extensive help center sites, where how-to guides cover almost every feature in their digital offices.
A big question on leadership's mind when adding 'virtual office' to the tech stack is: how do I move my team in?
SoWork leverages the Sophia Bot here - the AI Office Assistant. When new teammates land in a SoWork office, they're greeted by their own Sophia Bot. She steps them through onboarding tutorials, to get them familiar with the most important capabilities.
SoWork's live chat can also be used to get a SoWork teammate to swing by your office and help - usually with minimal notice.
While Gathertown's template maps do offer hints for how things work in the virtual office - like where to place your logo - this product does not currently have in-app onboarding support.
What Other Teams Say
At the end of the day, Gathertown vs SoWork comes down to the product priorities.
Gather Town is like a fun, social hangout spot with a touch of work. SoWork, on the other hand, is a remote work powerhouse with team bonding woven into the work days.
The best product for you depends on your remote team's unique needs.