We take culture seriously at Duolingo, working to give all our employees (“Duos”) opportunities to build authentic connections and experience moments of joy at work (even if our workplace is currently virtual). One way we do this is through diverse programming that is inclusive of our varied interests, social goals, and communication styles. In this post you’ll learn about one such program: Interactive Care Packages.


Something for everyone

We all find joy and connection in different ways, so it’s almost impossible to offer one singular experience that all our 350+ Duos will enjoy. Instead of merely sending everyone a box of swag, we worked with SwagUp to design monthly Interactive Care Packages. These themed boxes (our latest theme is “Outdoor Adventure”) contain branded swag, stickers, and – most importantly – activity prompts.


Activity prompts contextualize swag

“Outdoor Adventure” swag included a branded backpack and water bottle with activity prompts encouraging Duos to get outside and use their new swag. Prompts included a lunch & learn with Venture Outdoors (a Pittsburgh-based outdoor non-profit), directions on how to safely geocache, and a photography scavenger hunt – which culminated in a photography contest judged by Pittsburgh photographers Chancelor Humphrey, Di-ay Battad, and Randall Coleman.


Activities to disrupt COVID habits

These activity prompts don’t just contextualize the swag, they contain multi-sensory content designed to help disrupt some typical quarantine habits. The Outdoor Adventure activities were intended to encourage Duos to safely leave their homes and see their world differently through a camera lens. Our photography scavenger hunt included prompts that asked Duos to go outside to take a selfie or document their local architecture. Other prompts were inclusive to Duos unable to safely go outdoors, including capturing a view through their windows or sharing a pre-covid outdoor photo. See one colleague’s scavenger hunt photos below:


Getting off-screen

Six months into quarantine, many of us are starting to feel Zoom fatigue and have tired of virtual happy hours. To enable Duos to connect and learn about each other without video conferencing, we centered communication around a Slack channel, where Duos around the globe posted photos from their scavenger hunt adventures:





Shared memories

Receiving our packages, using the swag, participating in activities, and sharing our photos are all experienced collectively in that Slack channel. As packages began to arrive, the delight was palpable as Duos posted their comments and photos. Through them, you can feel our anticipation as we receive our packages, as well as pride in a successfully staged shot. Our cats even got in on the fun!


Interactive Care Packages are one way Duolingo is working to disrupt the monotony, screen fatigue, and isolation that quarantine can cause, all while engaging and bringing us together. Hopefully this post gives you a bit of joy and inspiration.