Gather Town Vs SoWork: Which Virtual Office Is Best For Your Team?

A side-by-side comparison of SoWork vs Gather Town.
Emma Giles, Co-Founder & Head of Product
March 15, 2023

Which Virtual Office Is Best For Your Remote Team?

SoWork and Gather Town: two top digital office apps. Both tackling remote work engagement. Productivity. And bringing back those oh-so-missed 'water cooler' moments.

SoWork is a remote work powerhouse, driving team performance and seamlessly integrating team bonding throughout the workdays.

While Gather Town is akin to a lively, social hub sprinkled with work elements.

In This Article We'll Cover...

1. Spontaneous Conversations Between Meetings

2. Customization

3. Productive Meeting Tools

4. Tools To Make Work Smarter

5. Engagement & Bonding Tools

6. Integration With Your Other Apps

7. Pricing

8. Support

9. Onboarding

10. Final Thoughts

Let's do it.

1. Spontaneous Conversations Between Meetings

This is the core value both Gather Town and SoWork are built around. In both apps, remote teams work beside each other, quite literally.

They can see who's in the office, walk up to available teammates, grab a teammate after a meeting to clarify a project's next steps, or join in on a conversation they'd never have known about if it had happened on Zoom.

And both apps have the basics you'd need to do this effectively. Video and microphone control. Video backgrounds to hide the dirty laundry behind you. Open meetings, closed private meetings, meeting zones for company-wide meetings.

So where do they differ?

Gather Town was originally created for events and socials. We see this pure social focus come out in the types of between-meeting connections they build around. Think games you can play with teammates between meetings. And toys you can interact with to encourage socialization.

SoWork was originally created for remote work. And this shows in how they approach between-meeting moments: less 'pure' social, and more 'work' social.

Think: deep work zones where teammates can work beside each other. Interview zones so others know a new candidate is in the office and can swing by to introduce themselves. Collaborative work sprint zones with pomodoro timers where teammates move between work and breaks together, and celebrate their progress.

So Gather Town encourages spontaneous conversations that focus on pure fun and games. Whereas SoWork wraps fun and play into work contexts, to help teams bond so that they can perform better together.

Both bring back spontaneous connections and between-meeting moments. But their approach is different.

2. Customization

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 a more immersive, life-like approach to the Art. And it has implications beyond just the immersion, look, and feel of the office.

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.

This impacts how real the office feels. If teams express excitement, camaraderie, accomplishments. And ultimately how engaged remote teammates are with each other and the company.

Customizing Your Office

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.

Customizing Desks

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.

Customizing Your Character

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 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 it impacts a feeling of connected to the team, company, and a sense of pride in their work.

3. Productive Meeting Tools

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.

4. Tools To Make Work Smarter

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 is the first 'smart' digital office on the market.

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, and encouraging a coffee catch-up.

SoWork also has an AI-powered 'office assistant', Sophia Bot. Sophia basically roams around the digital office helping teams save time.

One of her most popular capabilities is the ability to take meeting notes, summarize the main themes and takeaways, and provide action-items for enxt steps.

If public, these notes are then published to the whole company. Teammates save a ton of time catching up on what they missed.

And the 'meeting about the meeting because you couldn't be at the meeting' meeting is cut out of the calendar. Thank god.

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.

5. Team 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 does this via pure fun and games, SoWork integrates these capabilities into the work experience itself.

6. Integration With Your Other Apps

Your remote office needs to play nice with the other apps in your tech stack. And both SoWork and Gather Town have integrations to do just that.

Both apps have Slack and Google Calendar integrations.

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.

Gather Town'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 Office.

7. Pricing

Both Gather Town and SoWork have free and paid tiers.

The most important difference is what's in the free tier.

Gather Town limits free offices to 10 teammates. Once you're over 10 people (guests included), you need to pay.

SoWork allows teams to have unlimited teammates in their free plan. Instead, they limit functionality. They also allow paying teams to have free guest passes, so they don't need to pay for office visitors.

8. Support

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.

9. Onboarding

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 Gather Town'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.

10. Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, Gather Town 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.

Want to give SoWork a try? Start a free premium office trial here, or swing by our office to see one in action ๐Ÿš€