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German software giant SAP created a Tinder-like internal matching app to connect isolated employees for virtual lunches during remote work

Business Insider logo Business Insider 8/14/2020 kvedantam@businessinsider.com (Keerthi Vedantam)
a person sitting at a table using a laptop: SAP created a variety of activities for employees to stay connected while working from home. Westend61/Getty Images © Westend61/Getty Images SAP created a variety of activities for employees to stay connected while working from home. Westend61/Getty Images
  • German software giant SAP launched a handful of activities to keep employees connected amid the coronavirus crisis, including a wine tasting session and a Tinder-like app for connecting colleagues for virtual lunches, Bloomberg reported.
  • The company noticed that many of its single employees missed the in-person interactions of the office: "We realized we needed to address their loneliness and isolation, but do it in an open and positive way," an exec told Bloomberg. 
  • The company has 100,000 employees across 180 countries and one of the biggest, unexpected challenges of the shift to remote work was finding ways to keep them connected, former co-CEO Jennifer Morgan told Business Insider in April.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

German software giant SAP created a slew of employee-bonding activities as the coronavirus crisis has kept most of its employees home since March, according to Bloomberg, including an in-house app where employees can swipe left or right on each, a format popularized by the dating app Tinder. If employees match, they can coordinate a virtual lunch over video call. 

That custom-built app and SAP's other initiatives came to be after its human resource team noticed that many of its single employees were missing the social interactions they'd typically have at the office, according to diversity and inclusion officer Nina Strassner. 

"We realized we needed to address their loneliness and isolation, but do it in an open and positive way," she told Bloomberg reporter Benedikt Kammel.

In shifting its employees scattered across 180 countries to remote work, one of the biggest, unexpected challenges was actually helping workers who lived alone feel safe and connected, former co-CEO Jennifer Morgan told Business Insider in April.

"Because I have a family — as many people around me do — I didn't realize that, with 100,000 people, there's a lot of people who are alone," she said. 

So, the staff created a variety of activities its employees could enjoy from home, including film screenings, video game competitions, and wine tastings where bottles were delivered for free and sommeliers guided participants, according to Bloomberg. Around 1,700 workers also attended a virtual barbecue led by expert butchers. 

While those experiences are focused on SAP's German workers, different regions are employing their own new initiatives to keep company morale alive during isolation, too. In North America, the company is hosting a "Tour de SAP" Peloton competition, spokesperson Lesa Beber told Business Insider. And in the San Francisco Bay Area, the company has reworked its annual summer paint night and escape room tradition by coordinating small groups that can meet and do the activity together. 

"We take every opportunity to listen to our employees ," Beber told Business Insider via email, "And ensure we are doing everything we can to ensure they are comfortable and feeling empowered."

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