Cultivating Remote Culture with Video Messaging

Building a company culture is possible while remote. Here’s how:

Zight | May 19, 2021 | 6 min read time

Article Last Updated: July 12, 2023

Cultivating Remote Culture with Video Messaging

Even in the best-case scenarios, building a strong company culture is no small feat. And trying to form a sense of community while remote? Doubly challenging.

What does a company culture look like when employees are rarely (if ever) in the same room?

Is it even possible to develop meaningful professional bonds with colleagues in different zip codes? In varying time zones?

The short answer is *yes,* because we are pulling it off here at Zight (formerly CloudApp). But it’s an initiative requiring effort at every level and a marriage of daily conscious effort and the right collaboration tools.

Ironically, one of the keys to Zight (formerly CloudApp)’s culture cultivation has been the use of our own product.2021 can be the year that your organization builds a strong remote culture with the help of video messages.

Let’s dive in.

Defining Culture

When the phrase “corporate culture” comes up, I’d assume that it likely elicits eye rolls from a fairly large percentage of the population, and probably for good reason.

Culture is a concept historically abused in the workplace. It’s used as an excuse to manipulate employees into working extra hours, grounds for a job rejection, or to prop up a Potemkin village of corporate values. For these reasons and more there are a whole slew of reasons why you might view the notion of company culture as nothing more than performative.

But hear me out: there is a legitimate case to make for the value of company culture. And building an effective and collaborative culture remotely is the new frontier.

The first step is recognizing that “culture” by nature occurs organically, and will inevitably be formed in some capacity for better or for worse. Luckily, there are concrete steps you can take to influence how it is cultivated, even if your coworkers are on the other side of the world.

The New Norm

Not including the obvious foundational culture-influencing factors involving hiring processes, company values, missions statements, etc., in a traditional work environment —you remember, the ones where an entire team is working in an office setting for at least eight hours a day— culture is formed via water cooler (or WeWork keg) banter, team off-sites, and company happy hours.

These serendipitous micro-interactions build and evolve over time to form a web of connections, shared experiences, and values that ultimately combine to define the culture in which your employees exist and operate. This culture can have major implications for your teams’ job satisfaction, day-to-day performance, and overall morale.

So it’s kind of a big deal.

While working remotely when these physical occurrences aren’t necessarily possible, you have to be a bit more intentional in building camaraderie, and in creating an environment that puts the fun in functional and allows everyone a comfortable work space.

While weekly planned team meetings, Zoom 1:1s, and inside Slack jokes are all important pieces of the puzzle, they can only take you so far, culturally speaking.

Bridging the Gap with Video Messaging

By now you know that you can use Zight (formerly CloudApp) for giving technical feedback on a project, handling customer support tickets, or closing deals. But there are a variety of reasons why an async video messaging tool is the right call specifically when it comes to building culture remotely.

If you’re sitting there thinking “What can a screen recorder do that a meeting app like Zoom can’t?” or “How could I possibly benefit from one more collaboration tool on my dashboard?” The value of async video messaging as it pertains to culture is all about giving people the autonomy to engage when it makes sense for them to do so (people, as I generally understand them, do not enjoy bonding when it comes in the form of an obligation on their calendar). Given that sporadic, necessary engagement is how human interactions actually work in “real life,” predominant use of an async video messenger is far more likely to cultivate a culture that is authentic and healthy than the remote alternatives.

Forcing your team to participate in an ice-breaker on an obligatory team video meeting does not a corporate culture make. Allowing your coworkers the freedom to govern their own time and decide when they feel like engaging meaningfully is far more representative of the serendipitous interactions that actually occur in a traditional office setting and that, in my opinion, is where the magic happens.

Screen recording tools allow you to have (almost) all of the upsides of in-person interactions; think full conversational context with facial expressions, vocal inflection, etc., without the downside of the Zoom fatigue so many first-time remote workers have come to experience in this past year. It’s also wildly more inclusive in terms of the global workforce and those with less-traditional working styles or more introverted personality types.

The supposed beauty of remote work is in the empowerment of the employee— the freedom to live where you want, complete deep isolated work when you want, and interact with your coworkers when it makes sense for you and your day. Yet, many people are feeling more exhausted than ever due to incessant meetings on their calendar not allowing them to work in the way that is most conducive to their personal productivity. I find that people are much more likely to engage meaningfully when they are communicating on their own terms and within the context of their day. That’s how you build culture.

My Experience

I have had the experience of being onboarded to a new job entirely remotely.

My team at Zight (formerly CloudApp) is for the most part operating in PST and I am usually on the east coast. And while I tend to prefer working fairly standard hours, I regularly collaborate on projects with contractors 10 hours ahead, and one of my most-frequently interacted-with team members favors working late at night. We all have different methods that work for us best as individuals, and because of our frequent use of video messaging, it’s working for us as a team as well. This is the first role I have ever held completely remote and yet I’ve never felt more connected to a team.

The upsides to building culture with video messaging are seemingly infinite.

With async video communications, introverts don’t feel intimidated to speak like they might in an in-person meeting, those with language insecurities can speak confidently on their own terms, and those of us who are a little more vain about our appearance don’t have to put on mascara by 9am to look presentable for that team all-hands. I genuinely believe that consistent screen recording use was the missing link in terms of a productive and culturally healthy remote work life for me and I’m suspicious that this would ring true for anyone pessimistic about the future of remote work.

Putting the Fun in Functional

Hopefully you’re getting the gist that video messaging can be a massive help (dare I say necessity?) in fostering a healthy culture while remote.

In addition to these interactions that occur around specific projects and professional communications, there are absolutely some fun things you can consciously plan and participate in via screen recordings to add a little variety to your work life. Having fun is, after all, also an important part of any culture, professional or otherwise.

Here are some additional culture-building things we have done at Zight (formerly CloudApp) using only screen recordings:

– Held a hackathon in which teams collaborate only via Zight (formerly CloudApp) and then present their project with a video message which the team then votes on

– Held a March Madness tournament where members broke down their brackets in a short video

– Happy Birthday Messages/Holiday Greetings

– Musical Performances

– Pet show-and-tells

– Home/Resort Tours

– Demonstrate hobbies/projects (woodworking/chicken-coup building, etc.)

I’ve only been exposed to remote work life and the revolutionary communication tool that is async video message for under a year now, but I can promise you that I’ve only scratched the surface in terms of what it can accomplish for your company both logistically and culturally.

People work harder when they feel connected and culturally invested in the product/company they’re building. Video messaging allows your colleagues to communicate normally and bring their whole selves to a conversation in a way that makes sense for them.

While working remotely does require a bit of additional effort in terms of interacting with your teammates, with the right people, and the help of a tool like Zight (formerly CloudApp), a strong corporate culture is absolutely possible.

Get started today here.

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