Companies throughout the U.S. are confronting the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and its impact on their teams, as people follow calls for “social distancing” and begin to work from home. A Phoenix tech startup has eased its transition to 100% remote work by creating a virtual office that mimics the physical work environment in which the team normally collaborates. They developed this tool using programs already used by millions of companies.

“Coronavirus has raised questions about how companies can be good citizens during an outbreak, and we decided to take the plunge and make our company fully remote for the peace of mind of our team and their families,” says Aaron Dragushan, founder of Phoenix-based start-up Happy Monday. “After the team’s wellbeing, our biggest worry was losing the ability to openly collaborate, as we would in the office. A virtual office makes a huge difference in keeping the team together and productive as we all work from home.”

Using Zoom’s video conferencing product and a digital map of the Happy Monday office, team members can “move” throughout the office in order to attend the same collaborative meetups and water-cooler chats that make up a normal day at the company. The rooms are always open, which allows employees to navigate the virtual floor plan the way they would move within the real workspace.

Product Manager Tom Sadira, who led the effort to develop this solution, says, “so much is lost when you replace in-person collaboration with instant messages. This solution saves us time and prevents confusion by letting us quickly meet and talk like we would under normal circumstances.”

Happy Monday has put a demo of their virtual office on their website and will send complete instructions to those interested in setting up their own virtual office.