A Silicon Valley farm’s new service promises companies an inventive way to keep employees engaged and entertained amid an endless sea of virtual meetings.
For a donation between $65 and $250, one of Sweet Farm’s animal ambassadors can make a cameo in your Zoom meeting, Google Hangout or other video conference call — for an experience guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of all participants. (I mean, look at us, we are BEAMING.)
Nate Salpeter, a co-founder of the non-profit sanctuary and animal rescue, which is dedicated to “creating a compassionate and sustainable world,” told In The Know that the idea for “Goat 2 Meeting” was inspired by the massive work-from-home pivot many offices were forced to make last month.
“With a lot of people being told to shelter in place, tech companies are having to reprogram their lines of thinking into, ‘How do we engage with our employees in a way that’s effective?'” Salpeter said.
With people at home going “stir crazy” and with Sweet Farm unable to host its typical plethora of on-farm activities, the organization had to get creative in figuring out a solution to this two-prong problem — which is when the inspiration for “Goat 2 Meeting” struck.
“We were having a meeting with some of our team members and one of our board members who works in tech said, “You know, what would be awesome? We’re having these corporate happy hours and coffee breaks — what if we called in with one of the animals?'” Salpeter recalled.
Hundreds of “Goat 2 Meeting” requests pour in
In mid-March, Sweet Farm launched its hit service, which allows farm-to-video conferences with any of its 125 animal residents — many of which were rescued from situations ranging from dangerous to deadly. The calls are available to any user willing to donate to support the organization.
And apparently, the concept has been extremely well received by the public.
“In the last hour, I think we’ve had about a hundred new requests come in if that’s any indication of the excitement about it!” Salpeter told In The Know on April 15. “We’ve already done probably about 75 of these meetings and we have several hundred more in the pipeline. We’re scheduling out weeks in advance at this point and we’re really excited to engage with people in a different way that still executes our mission.”
Salpeter said one of the unexpected benefits of showing people around the farm virtually, rather than in person, is that the animals are more comfortable around him than they are around strangers, allowing him to provide a rare glimpse into true farm living.
“It’s just me, a cellphone and some animals,” he remarked. “They’re just in a state of being themselves without any strangeness going on, so you get all sorts of funny things [happening] — goats will start playing with one another, which they might not do if there’s a group of people in the vicinity. They really do play like your own dogs or cats.”
“That’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Naturally, the service has created some priceless moments for its customers — including one Fortune 100 company that was recently treated to the conference call of a lifetime.
“[The call] happened to be right around the time that two of our lambs were being bottle-fed,” Salpeter remembered. “They actually pulled the nipples off the bottles and it splashed milk [everywhere] and the lambs were having a ball. Everyone on the call was just squealing and saying, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.'”
“You get these kinds of real, unscripted moments,” he added. “That’s life on a sanctuary. We see that kind of stuff every day and it’s an opportunity for people to see what it’s really like to be up and close with these animals.”
If you enjoy this story, you might want to read about how Google’s 3D image feature lets you bring an entire zoo into your house.
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