Making friends working remotely
Shopimap Internal Tool
As a new immigrant in Toronto, I felt pretty lonely during the first year of the pandemic, with no office or friends. To rectify that, I’ve initiated a project during HackDays (our bi-annual hackathon) to create an interactive map of Shopifolk who want to make friends.
The project gained traction quickly, amassing a whopping 55 participants in the first round (average project has 5-10). The first version of the map was put together in 3 days during the first hackathon and later enhanced over the next 3 iterations to add group events, statuses, and profiles. During Hackdays Highlights, Shopimap won twice as the most beneficial and remote-work-friendly project at Shopify.
Shopify used to have a fantastic office. People liked it. A lot of serendipitous connections and ideas brewed when strangers met and talked. All of that magic was gone with remote work.
A lot of Shopifolk relocated for work to a city/country where they didn't have a social support system or friends. Loneliness is an epidemic for younger and single workers.
A map of those Shopifolk who chose to participate by opting in. Their location is imprecise and rounded up by 1km.
Ability to reach out to people near you for a chat or a walk, make new friends.
Ability to volunteer as a local guide.
Ability to create events and participate in them, such as biking, sports, games, and just hanging out in a park/bar/etc.
Project Manager and Team Leader
Shopimap was the first large-scale project I led as a Project Manager or Champion, as they’re called at Shopify. I coordinated around 50 people for 3 days, 3 times over, making sure we have development scope matching with UX explorations and the data team. It was the most invigorating experience, I must admit.
Content Designer and UX Specialist
The design process was naturally accelerated due to the nature of the project, so while the engineering was scoping out how to map out browser location onto the Google Maps API, while pulling Slack details in the profiles, our small UX team had to quickly put together the best UI for the map itself.
Events and profiles were more UX heavy and we did a fair bit of market and in-company research to define which exact fields were to be included, and then worked backwards from the eng possibilities of building that in 3 days.
The map ended up becoming quite popular, especially among the expats like myself. Almost a third of the company opted in to participate and a large percentage of those who did set their statuses to “Open to connections.” It was added to our intranet and accessible to all Shopify employees.
I’ve heard multiple success stories of people making connections and it was always such a joy to casually drop, “Oh Shopimap, yeah, I came up with that.”